Lay perceptions of mental toughness: Understanding conceptual similarities and differences between lay and sporting contexts
Keywords:mental toughness, prototype analysis, layperson, concept, definition
Abstract: The predominant focus on sporting populations has limited our conceptual understanding of mental toughness in lay contexts. On the basis of its wider benefits beyond sports, we sought to understand the central and peripheral attributes of mental toughness from a layperson’s perspective. To this end, we employed a prototype analysis which consisted of two studies. In Study 1, a list of attributes of mental toughness was generated. In Study 2, these attributes were ranked for their centrality to mental toughness. Study 1 was an open-format questionnaire, where 138 laypeople generated a final list of 75 attributes of mental toughness. The most frequently mentioned attributes were self-belief, determination, perseverance, resilience and focus, which largely supported important attributes identified by athletes in existing mental toughness literature. Study 2 surveyed 136 laypeople, who identified mental strength, overcomes obstacles, achieves/operates under pressure, determination and resilience/recovery as the most central attributes to mental toughness. Although determination and resilience aligned with existing sporting accounts of mental toughness, the remaining attributes reflect differences in perception of mental toughness between sporting and lay contexts. Examination of peripherally-rated attributes provides insights into mental toughness as an enduring form of suffering. Overall, determination and resilience emerged as frequently mentioned, as well as highly central, and, as such, represent the foundation for a universal (i.e., not context-specific) understanding of mental toughness.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. The license prevents others from using the work for profit without the express consent of the author(s). The license also prevents the creation of derivative works without the express consent of the author(s). Note that derivative works are very similar in nature to the original. Merely quoting (and appropriately referencing) a passage of a work is not making a derivative of it.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).