Information exchange as a potential cue for sport team cohesion
McLaren, Colin D. 1988-
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Group cohesion has been identified as an important construct in sport given its association with a number of individual and team outcomes. Within the extant literature, however, less attention has been devoted to the cues that individual athletes use to form cohesion perceptions. According to the assumptions underpinning the current conceptualization of sport group cohesion, athletes will consider both individual experiences within the team and the actual reality of the team as a whole when formulating perceptions of the team’s cohesiveness. One variable that could serve as a source of information for cohesion perceptions that captures this individual/team interface is member communication. The general purpose of the studies in this dissertation was to test communication as information exchange as a potential cue to cohesion. To increase the reliability of the findings, a series of studies that employed different samples, measurement tools, and study designs were used in an effort to replicate and extend the current knowledge base. Study 1 established the relationship between member information exchange and task cohesion, while controlling for social properties of communication (i.e., acceptance, distinctiveness, positive conflict, and negative conflict) and team performance. Results revealed that information exchange contributed unique variance in task cohesion over and above the social properties of communication. Studies 2 and 3 together tested the information exchange/cohesion relationship using social network analysis. The results of Study 2 revealed that team sport athletes who exchanged information with a larger proportion of their teammates on a regular basis reported higher task cohesion than those interacting with a moderate or smaller proportion of teammates. Using a hypothetical vignette design in Study 3, the proportion of information exchange occurring at the individual and team level was varied. The results showed that those exposed to the team vignette where individual members exchanged information with a larger proportion of teammates and the team as a whole engaged in higher information exchange reported higher anticipated task cohesion than those exposed to the vignette reflecting lower levels of information exchange. Together, the results of Studies 2 and 3 revealed that when individuals engaged in information exchange with a larger proportion of teammates, and this pattern translated to the team as a whole exchanging information, task cohesion perceptions also were higher. The design of Study 4 built on the findings of the hypothetical vignettes to examine the information exchange network structure and task cohesion of two intact teams competing in one game. The information exchange network structures were obtained from the members of the winning and losing teams. The results revealed that the members of the winning team reported higher information exchange at the individual and team level as well as higher perceptions of task cohesion than the losing team. As the findings of the first four studies were based on concurrent designs, Study 5 tested the information exchange/task cohesion relationship using a sample of intact teams and a prospective design. Overall, the findings from the last study suggested that over the first half of the competitive season, a higher proportion of early season information exchange at the individual level was significant in predicting task cohesion perceptions at midseason. Further, a higher proportion of early season information exchange at the team level was significant in predicting midseason team performance. Taken together, the results from all five studies provide initial evidence for viewing communication as information exchange as a potential cue to task cohesion. Further, the findings offer a foundation from which information exchange as an actual cue to cohesion can be tested using an experimental manipulation with intact sport teams.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeGyurscik, Nancy; Brawley, Larry; Hellsten, Laurie
Copyright DateOctober 2018
Social Network Analysis