Investigating the Influence of Mental Toughness on Risk-Taking Behaviour in Sport.


Despite the abundance of research and sustained interest in Mental Toughness (MT), very little research has addressed the potentially maladaptive aspects of this construct in sport (e.g., physical toughness, risk-taking, controlling emotions) (Cowden et al., 2020). The purpose of the current study was to investigate the association between MT and self-reported risk-taking behaviours relative to factors that are known to influence risk-taking behaviours in sport. Sport participants with varying sport backgrounds (N =240) completed the Mental Toughness Index (Gucciardi et al., 2015), the Risk, Pain, and Injury Questionnaire (Walk & Wiersma, 2005), the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (Brewer & Cornelius, 2001) and questions regarding specific risk-taking behaviour (i.e., performing in pain or injury) (Weinberg et al., 2013). Bivariate correlations revealed that MT was unrelated to the RPIQ but significantly and positively related to the AIMS (Social Identity and Exclusivity). Results of a hierarchical regression analysis demonstrated that MT was not a significant predictor of self-reported risk-taking behaviour, whereas the AIMS and the RPIQ Tough subscale were significant predictors. This study builds on previous research that has directly investigated or linked MT and risk-taking in athletes (Bull et al., 2005; Crust & Keegan, 2010; Coulter et al., 2010) and adds insight into the kinds of physical risk-taking behaviours that do not appear to be associated with MT in sport. Furthermore, these results may also point to the stance that mentally tougher athletes can be flexible when it comes to behavioural perseverance in sport (Crust et al., 2016; Gucciardi, 2017).