Personality and coping in sport: The big five and mental toughness

Remco C.J. Polman, Peter J. Clough, Andrew R. Levy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The role of personality on coping has received scant attention in the domain of sport. However, there are a number of ways how personality might influence coping either directly or indirectly among athletes. Evidence from other life domains is provided suggesting that personality can affect the type and frequency of stressors encountered, the appraisal of the stressor (including stress reactivity), coping, and coping effectiveness. These mechanisms are not independent from each other and suggest that certain personalities are more vulnerable or resistant to stress. In particular, individuals high in neuroticism might experience mood spill-overs and the so called neurotic cascade. Based on the general psychological literature, specific evidence is provided regarding how The Big Five personality dimensions extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experiences are related to stressor exposure, appraisal, and coping. We also discuss the role of the sport specific personality construct mental toughness in the stress-coping process. In particular, the different approaches to mental toughness are briefly discussed. A number of studies are discussed that support the notion that more mentally tough athletes are more like to appraise stressful situations as less severe and more under control. Also, mentally tough athletes are more likely to use problem-focused coping strategies to tackle the problem at hand rather than emotion-focused or avoidance coping strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoping in Sport
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Methods, and Related Constructs
EditorsAdam R. Nicholls
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781608764884
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


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