An important contribution to the development of sport and exercise psychology

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Erwin Apitzsch
Dept. of Psychology, Lund University


Gershon Tenenbaum, Robert C. Eklund & Akihito Kamata (red) Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology 552 sidor, inb. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics 2012 ISBN 978-0-7360-8681-3

Gershon Tenenbaum, Robert C. Eklund & Akihito Kamata (red)
Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology
552 sidor, inb.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics 2012
ISBN 978-0-7360-8681-3

The purpose of Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology is to provide state-of-the-art knowledge in sport and exercise psychology, and to review existing tools and methods in this area. The book contains, besides an introduction, four parts,

  1. Measurement Basics, Methods, and Issues,
  2. Cognition, Perception, and Motivation Measurement,
  3. Emotion, Affect, and Coping Measurement, and
  4. Social and Behavioral Measurement.

The 39 chapters cover about 10-15 pages each, and 71 authors have contributed. Each chapter begins with definitions of relevant concepts, and continues with an evaluation of the measurements arranging them in a theoretical and conceptual framework. Most chapters conclude with recommendations for researchers and practitioners, including an informative list of the measurements. The book also includes access to 14 measurement instruments available online.

When planning a research study, the aim of the study is in focus, whereupon the appropriate methods are sought for. Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology provides another perspective. Let’s take exercise motivation (chapter 26) as an example. If we are interested in finding out what motivates people to engage in physical exercise, we should take a look at what measurements are available and how they relate to the theoretical framework. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the instrument? Domain clarity, based on the conceptualization of motivation within psychological theory, is the foundation for instrument development. After a thorough review of the literature, the finding is that there is a lack of construct validity evidence that could serve as a guide for the selection and use of exercise motivation instruments. Thus, the conclusion is that instrument selection is best guided by the joint consideration of the research question and the available data supporting the interpretation of an instrument’s score. As the book states, “Measurement develops with the accumulation of knowledge and thus can be seen as process rather than a final product” (p. 4), and “There is nothing that contributes to the advancement of knowledge more than a new instrument” (p. 421).

My favorite chapter is authored by David Eccles and entitled “Verbal Reports of Cognitive Processes” (Chapter 11). This is an excellent review of the state-of-the-art with regard to how participants respond to questions about their thinking, and as exciting as a good crime novel.

David Eccles claims that a consideration of the conditions under which participants are most likely to provide useful information in response to requests for verbal reports of their cognitive processes is missing in sport and exercise psychology. Furthermore, he claims that there are no accessible guidelines about research designs that create these conditions. Therefore, the aim of his chapter is to demonstrate the shortcomings of methods currently used in sport and exercise psychology to elicit verbal reports of cognitions. After presenting validity of verbal reports of cognitive processes, 16 studies of psychological skills use are analyzed with regard to a verbal report framework. The conclusion is that in most studies the participants reported on general states, instead of referring to a specific episode, which are considered to have the least validity. In the worst case, the participants might draw on information unrelated to any actual episode to generate a verbal report of a general procedure. This may lead to that sport performers, when presented with questions about e.g. mental toughness, simply may report what they have heard about or even imagined. Fortunately, guidelines are provided for designing studies that create conditions for capturing valid verbal reports of cognitive processes.

Thus, the conclusion is that instrument selection is best guided by the joint consideration of the research question and the available data supporting the interpretation of an instrument’s score.

I imagine that the production of the book has involved much hard work for the authors, but particularly for the editors, and taken at least four years, as indicated by one of the authors (p. 108). One example is that two authors in the list of contributors have not provided information about their institutional base. It is also unfortunate that measurements are limited to literature available in English. However, I do realize that a single book cannot encompass everything. An interesting approach is that, at least, one author has commented on the reviewer’s remarks. If this procedure was used intentionally by the editors, or just happened, is not reported, but certainly a dimension worth considering. The use of the word recent is problematic. It implies that something is new, and intuitively this should not be older than five years. However, in this volume “recent studies” referred to a reference from 2003 (p. 182), with no indication of when the study was conducted. A more accurate, but not necessarily more informative, wording is “recently published” with a reference to 2004 (p. 179). It might be that the author of a chapter is referring to a publication within the limit of five years, when writing the chapter without knowing when it will be published. Therefore, I think that the editors should take note of this issue. The editors have selected two chapter authors, whose contribution as originators of questionnaires constitute the main content of the respective chapters (35 and 37). In my opinion it is unfortunate that they, according to the purpose of the book “to outline and review existing tools and methods”, review their own work. That would never happen in peer reviewed journals. As usual for publications by Human Kinetics, this book is well written and carefully proof-read. I have only discovered one misspelling: “…scoring protocols haven been forthcoming…” shall read “…scoring protocols have been forthcoming…” (p. 299).

I like the innovative approach of Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology, and although the quality of the chapters varies, it is an important contribution to the development of sport and exercise psychology. My recommendation is that the book should be adopted as required literature for graduate students, and a source of inspiration for researchers prior to conducting studies. I sincerely hope that forthcoming editions of Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology will be published at least at three year interval.

This book should be placed on your work desk, readily available for daily inspiration, and not tucked away on your book-shelf.

Copyright © Erwin Apitzsch 2014

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