All for one? Collective responsibility and psychological climate


While attributing responsibility for an outcome has a long history in psychology (Heider, 1958), it has received much less attention in sport. This is surprising given that teams are typically lauded for their 'all for one mentality', yet, games are often ostensibly decided by the play of one or a subgroup of players. Further, if the perception is that all members are collectively responsible for a losing outcome, then what does that say about team climate? This study explored whether perceptions of differing levels of responsibility (individual or collective) by members would be associated with different perceptions of psychological climate (PC) within a sport team. Curlers (N=66) completed online measures of PC (Spink et al., 2012) and collective responsibility (designed for this study) near the end of their season. For the analysis, individuals were split into two responsibility groups: 1) those who reported that individuals were more responsible for losses (individual responsibility, n=29), and, 2) those who reported that the team was more responsible for losses (collective responsibility, n=37). A MANOVA was performed with responsibility as the IV (individual vs collective responsibility) and the PC subscales as the DVs. Results revealed that PC differed across the levels of responsibility, F(4,61)=2.616, p=.044, etap2=.15. Post hoc analysis revealed that self-expression was the PC subscale that significantly differed between conditions (F(1, 64) = 4.61, p=.036). Those who perceived that it was primarily the team (versus individuals) who was collectively responsible for the loss reported being more able to express themselves around the team.