The relationships among mental toughness, hardiness, optimism and coping: a structural equation modeling approach

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Leilani Madrigal (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: Sport can be stressful with the time demands, emphasis on winning, and high expectations. Being able to positively reinterpret events, remain calm and relaxed under pressure, and maintain emotional control may be essential to athletes' ability to cope with the various demands of sport. These elements are characteristics of mental toughness (Crust & Clough, 2005), which may be a protective factor in coping with demands of sport. This research examined the reliability and validity of the Mental Toughness Scale (MTS) by investigating relationships of mental toughness with coping behavior, and related constructs of hardiness and optimism. Specifically, four aims were addressed in the current study. The first aim assessed the factor structure and gender variance of the MTS, while the second aim examined the validity of the MTS. The third aim assessed relationships of mental toughness with related constructs of hardiness and optimism and coping behavior within a structural model. The fourth aim explored gender differences on the main variables as well as relationships among these variables. Five hundred and seventy collegiate athletes from various sports (i.e., soccer, baseball/softball, basketball, wrestling, track & field, cross-country, tennis, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming, and rifle) and levels of play completed measures (either online or via a hard copy in group settings) assessing mental toughness, hardiness, optimism, and coping. Using correlation/regression analysis and Structural Equation Modeling, the MTS was found to be a valid measure of mental toughness and was superior to hardiness or optimism in predicting approach styles of coping (i.e., problem-, emotion-focused coping) in response to sport-related stress. Additionally, there were no gender differences on the main variables or in the relationships between mental toughness and coping. Although research on mental toughness is still in its infancy, the findings demonstrate that the MTS is a psychometrically strong tool for assessing mental toughness and that mental toughness is superior to hardiness and optimism in predicting positive coping behaviors. More work is needed on the possible stress-buffering effects of mental toughness and benefits of this positive psychological characteristic. Future work can then determine how mental toughness can be developed and what populations (e.g., injured, transitioning athletes) may gain most from its benefits.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Athletes, College, Coping, Mental toughness
Sports $x Psychological aspects
College athletes $x Psychology
Stress (Psychology)
Adjustment (Psychology)

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