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The socialisation of athlete irrational beliefs

King, Ailish, Barker, Jamie, Turner, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1975-5561 and Plateau, Caroline (2022) The socialisation of athlete irrational beliefs. Journal of Rational - Emotive and Cognitive - Behavior Therapy. ISSN 0894-9085

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Abstract

According to Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), humans have a strong biological tendency to adopt self-defeating irrational beliefs which are subsequently driven by the socio-cultural environment one lives in (Ellis, 1976). Sport of all levels presents a unique environment which may serve to explain sport-related irrationalities harboured by athletes given that sport seems to endorse irrationality evident by the language used by key personnel and outlets (e.g., coaches and the media; Turner 2016). An athlete’s beliefs and philosophies are shaped by a myriad of people within and outside of sport with whom they look to for guidance, such as coaches, medical professionals, parents, and the media. These key social agents within an athlete’s micro-environment and macro-environment harbour and model irrationality through their behaviour, language and processes. These irrationalities may then be internalized, giving rise to the development and maintenance of irrational beliefs in athletes. Research has consistently demonstrated the association between irrational belies and deleterious mental health outcomes in athletes, such as psychological distress (e.g., Turner et al., 2019). Therefore, the aim of our commentary is twofold: (1) to critically explore how key stakeholders within an athlete’s micro- and macro- environment contribute to the development, maintenance, and strengthening of irrational beliefs in athletes and, (2) to provide guidance to key stakeholders on weakening irrational beliefs and strengthening rational beliefs, thereby promoting a healthy and successful sport environment and positive mental health outcomes in athletes.

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