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A qualitative examination of tennis players’ experiences of the person perception process in tennis

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This study sought to qualitatively examine a) the impressions that tennis players form of opponents, b) the sources of information used to form such impressions, and c) the perceived impact of initial impressions. Twelve national level tennis players completed a semi-structured interview examining their perceptions of person perception in tennis. Interview transcripts were subjected to deductive content analyses. Seventy-one raw data themes, 19 first order-themes and eight secondorder themes emerged. Participants formed impressions of their opponents’ general ability relative to themselves, impressions of opponents’ mobility and power and impressions of opponents’ mental states and characteristics. Participants used stored stimulus person information (e.g., previous encounters), present context information (e.g., peer support) and present stimulus person information (e.g., body language)when forming these impressions. In turn, impressions influenced psychological (e.g., affective) and behavioral (e.g., tactical) responses. The study indicates that athletes’ experiences of person perception resonate with existing models of person perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-300
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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