2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Eric M. Martin


Vallerand et al. (2003) pioneered research on psychological passion by categorizing passion as being either harmonious or obsessive. Harmonious passion is associated with positive emotions and well-being and invokes a sense of personal enjoyment and freedom while obsessive passion causes one to feel compelled to engage in an activity for a means other than personal enjoyment (e.g., self-validation, social approval, or external rewards). While the effects of harmonious and obsessive passion have been repeatedly observed, the factors that cause these types of passion to surface have scarcely been studied (Mageau et al., 2009). The current work explores the developmental processes of passion in various collegiate athletes and the differences within these processes that may predict the emergence of either harmonious or obsessive passion. Sixty-five participants completed a survey assessing their passion for sport; and from this pool, researchers selected individuals to interview. Specifically, five athletes with high obsessive passion and five athletes with low obsessive passion and high harmonious passion were selected for a follow-up interview about their sport experience with a focus on the factors that influenced their passion development including the influence of various significant others (e.g., parents, coaches, and other athletes). Some themes were common across the two subgroups including high parental involvement, coaches providing autonomy and encouragement, and a high level of competence early in their career. However, some aspects (e.g., high levels of parental pressure, autonomy support/thwarting behaviors) were more prominent in one group than the other. The findings of this study correspond with existing literature demonstrating that positive emotionality in sport can either be facilitated or hindered by passion (Stenseg et al., 2014); and these results can help coaches, parents and practitioners in creating a youth sport experience that is more likely to cultivate harmoniously passionate athletes.



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