Predicting persistence or withdrawal in female handballers with Social Exchange theory


  • Guillet Emma
  • Sarrazin Philippe
  • Carpenter Paul J.
  • Trouilloud David
  • Cury François


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    Two complementary studies were conducted to explain the dropout phenomenon with French female handball players, utilizing the tenets of social exchange theory (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959; Rusbult, 1980). In the first study, the aim was to more fully explore the sources of enjoyment by emphasizing the key variables in the costs/benefits analysis. We postulate that the costs/benefits analysis consists in each athlete estimating the probability of reaching the most desired consequences for him or her (e.g., learn and improve skill, affiliation with others, be better than the others). The subjects were 488 French women aged from 15-19 years. Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed that enjoyment in handball was predicted by a latent variable (named perceived benefits) subjacent to perceptions of competence, autonomy, relatedness, progress, coach's support, and time of play. In the second study, we tested a sport commitment model based on the social exchange postulates, using SEM analyses and a prospective design over 8 months. In view of the results of study 1, we replaced the construct of enjoyment with perceived benefit. This analysis provides a more comprehensive understanding of the enjoyment construct and is more consistent with the notion of cost and benefits outlined in social exchange theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959). Participants were 253 French handball players between the ages of 14 and 16 years. A first set of analyses, focused on the differences, showed that dropout players perceived themselves as significantly less competent, less autonomous, less related to their team, lower in progress and less supported by their coach than persistent players. The second set of analyses with SEM revealed that the commitment level was positively associated with perceived benefits and negatively with social constraints and alternatives opportunities. Finally, a lack of commitment led to dropping out of the sport 8-months later.

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