Psychological Coping Skills as Predictors of Collegiate Golf Performance: Social Desirability as a Suppressor Variable

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The distinction made by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and by Bandura (1997) between coping strategy selection (“ways of coping”) and successful execution of coping behaviors (coping skills) is the basis for 2 types of sport-related coping measures. First, we discuss how these constructs and measures differ. Then we describe a longitudinal study involving relations between scores on the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI) and subsequent athletic performance in a study of 103 men and women collegiate golfers. Significant relations were found between the ACSI scales and performance, and gender differences were observed in coping skills as well as in relations of specific ACSI subscales to performance. We assessed the potential role of social desirability (Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale) as a suppressor variable that can enhance relations between self-reported psychological attributes and behavioral outcome measures by extracting systematic error variance from predictor variables. On average, performance variance accounted for by the ACSI subscales increased from 30% to 39% for men and from 23% to 30% for women with scores on the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale controlled. Finally, we discuss conditions under which the impression management variant of social desirability acts a suppressor variable or, conversely, attenuates relations between predictor and outcome variables.

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