Empathic accuracy in coach-athlete dyads who participate in team and individual sports

Ross Lorimer, Sophia Jowett

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Objective The purpose of the present study was to investigate the empathic accuracy of coach-athlete dyads participating in team and individual sports. Method An adaptation of Ickes’s (2001) unstructured dyadic interaction paradigm was used to assess the empathic accuracy of 40 coach-athlete dyads. Accordingly, each dyad was filmed during a training session. The dyad members viewed selected video footage that displayed discrete interactions that had naturally occurred during that session. Dyad members reported what they remembered thinking/feeling while making inferences about what their partner’s thought/felt at each point. Empathic accuracy was estimated by comparing self-reports and inferences. Results The results indicted that accuracy for coaches in individual sports was higher than coaches in team sports. Shared cognitive focus also differed between team and individual sports, and fully mediated the effect of sport-type on coach empathic accuracy. Moreover, coaches whose training sessions were longer demonstrated increased empathic accuracy. No differences were found for athletes. Conclusions The results suggest that the dynamics of the interaction between a coach and an athlete play a key role in how accurately they perceive each other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-158
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Empathy
  • Understanding
  • Coaching
  • Empathic accuracy
  • Relationship
  • Perception


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