The Big Five Personality Traits and physical and emotional exhaustion among athletes: The mediating role of autonomous and controlled motivation

Chunxiao Li *, Ying Hwa Kee **, Xi Wang * and Qiang Guo ***

(*) Department of Health and Physical Education, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
(**) Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
(***) Department of Physical Education, Shangqiu University, China

Little is known about whether athlete burnout can be attributed to personality traits. Guided by self-determination theory, this study aimed to explore the relationships among the Big Five personality traits, autonomous/controlled motivation, and physical and emotional exhaustion (PEE; a core dimension of athlete burnout). A multi-section survey measuring the five personality traits, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and PEE was administrated to 460 university athletes (Mage = 20.64) in China. The results showed that three out of the five personality traits (i.e., conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness) and autonomous motivation were negative predictors of PEE, whereas controlled motivation was a positive predictor. Autonomous motivation was a partial mediator in the relationships between four of the five personality traits (i.e., agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness) and PEE, and controlled motivation partially mediated the relationship between agreeableness and PEE. These findings suggest the significance of self-determination theory in explaining the underlying process between the personality-PEE link.

Keywords: Emotional Exhaustion, Intrinsic motivation, Personality traits, Sport


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