By M.J. Tomkinson

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The five-factor model of personality Arguably, the most popular trait theory in contemporary personality psychology is the five-factor model, developed by Costa & McCrae (1985); however, sport psychologists have been fairly slow to recognise its importance, and there are few published studies making use of it. The five factors in this model include extroversion and neuroticism (similar to Eysenck’s traits). In addition, the trait of openness describes the individual’s ability to appreciate new experiences and tolerate the unfamiliar.

Similarly, if we commit a suspect behaviour and escape punishment, we are negatively reinforced, and are likely to repeat the behaviour. If, on the other hand, the behaviour does not achieve anything (neutral response), or if it results in something nasty happening to us (punishment), we are not likely to repeat it. Modelling involves learning new behaviours by watching and copying the behaviour of others. Bandura has proposed that learning of behaviour takes place in the following four stages: • Attention; we watch others behave in a certain way.

There are alternatives to the trait approach and these have been gaining ground in recent years. One alternative is the narrow-band approach, which, rather than breaking down all aspects of personality to traits, focuses on specific aspects of personality. Sensation seeking has received particular attention and is reliably associated with participation in high-risk sports. The quality of mental toughness is considered important by athletes but thus far has defied precise definition and explanation by sport psychologists.

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