Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Mark A. Eys

Advisor Role

Doctoral Supervisor


As an exploration of the nature of groups and interpersonal influence within individual sport teams, this dissertation combined qualitative, correlational, and experimental methods. A qualitative study was first conducted with fourteen elite individual sport athletes who participated in interviews exploring their sport experiences with teammates. Athletes suggested that teammates were a primary source of motivation, social facilitation, social comparisons, and teamwork. Athletes also described how concepts such as cohesion and competitiveness acted as determinants of interpersonal influence and commented on how these concepts related to group structures. Qualitative reflections formed the basis for the subsequent conceptual paper that identified four individual sport team types by contrasting interdependence in terms of collective goals and compete against each other in the same events. Three empirical studies were then conducted to test whether teammate interdependencies were associated with aspects of the group environment. The first study was a paper and pencil survey completed by 210 individual sport athletes and revealed that athletes who reported structural task interdependence with teammates also reported increased interdependence perceptions that were, in turn, associated with increased cohesion and satisfaction as well as decreased competitiveness. There were no differences according to whether participants competed in the same event as all of their teammates or not. This study was followed by a weekly e-mail survey with 17 athletes who reported weekly interdependence perceptions over the course of a competitive season. Interdependence perceptions were higher during weeks that were close in time to competitions with a collective outcome. A final experimental study was then conducted, as 84 athletes were randomly assigned to read one of four hypothetical team recruitment letters from a prospective coach and then rated their perceptions of the team’s environment. Cohesion was rated highest for teams including a collective team outcome, whereas perceptions of competitiveness were greatest when all members competed in the same event, but with no collective outcome. These studies reveal how interdependence structures shape the group environment and inform applied efforts that consider ways to optimize group functioning. Notably, even among individual sport athletes who are often distinguished according to a lack of task interdependence, team members’ relationships are fundamentally influenced by their interdependencies with one another.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season