Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Eys

Advisor Role

Supervised all research activities during the PhD program.


Group member characteristics are key factors that underpin a team’s structure (e.g., roles), emergent states (e.g., cohesion), processes (e.g., goals), and subsequently both individual (e.g., retention) and group (e.g., performance) outcomes (Carron & Eys 2012). Furthermore, the importance of considering individuals’ cultural backgrounds (as specific member characteristics) contributing to individual and group outcomes has recently been expressed within sport psychology (Schinke et al., 2014). Although sporadic attempts have examined cultural diversity in professional sport contexts in relation to performance and revenue (e.g., Maderer et al., 2014), the majority of empirical research examining the effects of cultural diversity on small groups has been conducted in non-sport organizational settings (e.g., Stahl et al., 2010). As such, there is a dearth of research examining the effects of cultural diversity on sport groups at all levels of competition (e.g., professional, college/university, youth sport). Thus, the general purpose of the current dissertation was to explore how cultural diversity impacts the group environment and individual athletes’ experiences within interdependent sport team contexts. More specifically, four projects examined how cultural diversity (a) has been defined and measured and (b) influences team functioning-oriented variables (e.g., cohesion) and individual experiences. The first project employed a formal scoping review (Arksey & O’Malley, 2005) and findings revealed that cultural diversity was rarely defined in empirical research (only 37% of the reviewed articles provided clear definitions) and mathematical indices were the most common method of measurement. Moreover, several potential correlates of diversity (e.g., cohesion) emerged that informed subsequent project designs. Project Two examined how member diversity of a typically overt aspect of culture, ethnicity (e.g., African-American, Asian), influences team cohesion. Multilevel analysis of data from 253 intercollegiate athletes nested within 20 teams revealed that ethnic diversity positively predicted one dimension of task cohesion. However, post-hoc team-level hierarchical regressions hinted at the possibility of inverse-U-type relationships between ethnic diversity and several dimensions of cohesion. Building upon these findings, Project Three examined how ethnic diversity influenced cohesion in youth sport with a sample consisting of 272 athletes from 24 teams. Contrary to Project Two, ethnic diversity negatively predicted both task and social cohesion. Finally, Project Four used a qualitative methodology to gain a deeper understanding of how ethnic diversity influences the group environment and individual athletes’ experiences. The results of this project indicate that athletes recognize ethnic differences among members of their team and perceive ethnic diversity to be influential upon several facets of team functioning (e.g., communication) and individual experiences (e.g., personal growth). Together, these projects are anticipated to guide future research that will lead to more practical implications (e.g., help coaches work with athletes of diverse cultural backgrounds more effectively maximizing athlete participation and retention).

Convocation Year


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