The role of personality in sport and physical activity

Mark S. Allen, Sylvain Laborde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


There is now good evidence that athletic success and participation in physical activity can be predicted by personality traits. In this article, we review new studies that have contributed to our understanding of these relationships and outline potential avenues of inquiry to support the development of personality-trait research in exercise and sport. 

Our review identified a number of novel findings from contemporary studies. In the context of sport performance, new studies have demonstrated that personality traits relate to long-term athletic success, interpersonal relationships, and athletes’ psychological states before, during, and after competitions. In the context of health-related exercise, new studies have demonstrated that personality traits relate to leisure-time sitting time, strength and mobility in old age, and unhealthy (addictive) exercise behaviors. There is also evidence that physical activity contributes to personality change. 

Our recommendations include a more targeted focus on adolescence (as this is the age of greatest change in personality and sport participation) and a greater consideration of consultant personality traits in applied research and professional practice (given their role in intervention effectiveness).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-465
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • applied psychology
  • developmental changes
  • exercise participation
  • Five Factor model
  • physical fitness


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