Retrospective versus momentary methods: a necessary balance in the study of psychological well-being in sport organizations?

Richard A.C. Simpson, Faye F. Didymus, Toni L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


A constellation of qualitative research has focused on organizational sport psychology in recent decades (Wagstaff & Larner, 2015). Using retrospective (e.g., interviews) and momentary (e.g., diaries) methods, research has yielded insights to the psychological well-being (PWB) of those operating within sport organizations. Methodological critiques have, however, polarized opinion on the use of retrospective and momentary designs. This presentation critically evaluates and reflects on these methods and their usefulness for future qualitative research on PWB.

This presentation is informed by two qualitative empirical studies that we have recently conducted. The first study comprised three athletes, three coaches, and three practitioners and used individual and triadic semi-structured interviews to unpack individual and interpersonal PWB. The second study included five performance directors who engaged in two interviews and interval-contingent audio-recorded diaries that captured changes to PWB over a 28-day period.

Findings and Discussion:
The authors reflect on three methodological considerations: 1) how each method facilitates sharing of PWB experiences (e.g., via freedom, privacy, autonomy), 2) researcher contributions during each method (e.g., offering opportunity for catharsis), and 3) the interplay between methods (e.g., sense-making of real-time experiences). These considerations emphasize the need for balanced and integrated use of retrospective and momentary methods when studying PWB in sport.

This presentation examines the usefulness of retrospective and momentary qualitative methods when exploring PWB. We recommend that researchers capture momentary real-time verbalizations of PWB whilst harnessing the sense- and meaning-making capacities afforded by interviews. Such endeavours would extend understanding of PWB in sport organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 28 Jul 2022
EventInternational Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise - University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jul 202228 Jul 2022

Academic conference

Academic conferenceInternational Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise
Abbreviated titleQRSE
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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