Date of Award

Spring 1985

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bardwell, Rebecca

Second Advisor

Topetzes, Nick, J.

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The fact that successful athletic competition (as represented by performance levels in the research situation) is dependent upon physical ability as well as psychological factors presents a problem for those involved in training athletes because the nature of the psychological factors is relatively unknown. Women athletes do not perform to the same performance level as do men, nor do they, in general, participate in athletics as widely as do men. It is hypothesized that this might be due to two psychological variables: need-achievement and self-concept. Accurate identification of the precise nature of these psychological factors might be an aid in developing performance enhancement strategies and in sports participant selection. The problem for this study was to assess two psychological attributes, need-achievement and self-concept, which may serve as barriers to or enhancers of athletic performance in terms of ability. This could be done by comparing high performing athletes to low performing athletes and female athletes to male athletes. The purpose of this study was to investigate need-achievement and self-concept in athletic performance. The study investigated how high performance athletes differ from low performance athletes and how female athletes differ from male athletes in need-achievement and self-concept. Discriminant analysis was used to determine whether need-achievement and self-concept when combined were predictors of performance level and gender in athletic competition. Three performance levels were determined: actual performance (performance during the previous season), potential performance (coaches' rating on how well athletes performed to their ability), fitness-performance (height-weight ratio of physical fitness). Discriminant analysis was also used to determine whether need-achievement and self-concept when combined were predictors of gender. Significant differences were found for actual- and fitness-performance for the total sample and for the female and male sub-samples but not for potential performance. Significant differences were found for gender on the total sample. It was concluded that these traits identified the high performer: high self-criticism, high social self-concept, high physical self-concept, high self-satisfaction, high need-achievement, high personal self-concept and identity. Three traits: high self-criticism, physical self-concept and behavior identified the male athlete.



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