Publication Date

Fall 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Frederick Grieve (Director), Steven R. Wininger, and Pitt Derryberry

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


It is widely supported that participation in athletics is positively correlated with increased overall health. However, some research indicates that participation in increased levels of competition is positively correlated with higher levels of depression and anxiety. This means, that if compared, athletes competing nationally or internationally would report higher levels of both depression and anxiety than athletes competing at the intercollegiate level. Research indicates that this could be caused by increased amounts of pressure, personal cost, and expectation.

This study examines potential differences between intercollegiate, intramural, and non-athletes in these areas on a college campus. The first hypothesis is that depression symptoms will be more present in intercollegiate athletes than in intramural participants. The second hypothesis states that anxiety symptoms will be more prevalent in intercollegiate athletes than in intramural participants. The third hypothesis states that life satisfaction will be greater in intramural participants than in intercollegiate athletes. Lastly, the fourth hypothesis states that perceived social support and athletic identity will mediate the relationship between level of athletic participation and psychopathology.

Participants in this study gave informed consent, completed a demographics questionnaire, and scales measuring depression and anxiety, life satisfaction, athletic identity, and perceived social support. The participants were recruited from intercollegiate teams, intramural teams, and psychology courses at Western Kentucky University.

The first and second hypotheses were not supported since intramural participants did not have significantly different levels of depression compared to intercollegiate athletes and non-athletes. Results revealed intramural participants are more satisfied with life than intercollegiate and non-athletes, which supports the third hypothesis. The results also revealed that life satisfaction is mediated by both athletic identity and perceived social support, which shows partial support for the fourth hypothesis. The fourth hypothesis was not supported for depression and anxiety because these factors did not have significant differences between the groups so finding a mediating factor was not possible.


Clinical Psychology | Exercise Science | Health Psychology