Unpacking interpersonal stress and well-being in competitive sport: confessional tales of a doctoral researcher

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Purpose: The objectives of this paper are to present a series of tales on how an early-career researcher has started to unpack the underexplored topic of interpersonal stress and well-being in competitive sport.

Background: Understanding psychological stress and well-being has been a long-standing endeavour for sport psychology researchers, practitioners, and performers. In addition to the copious knowledge accumulated on individual experiences of stress (e.g., stressors, appraisals, emotions, and coping) and its associated outcomes (e.g., well-being), emerging literature has turned to interpersonal psychology (e.g., dyads, contagion). A lens that has progressed conceptual understanding of transactional stress. In doing so, research has unearthed how dyadic (e.g., coach-athlete) and triadic (e.g., coach-athlete-practitioner) relationships are collectively experienced, coped with, and managed by the people within them. Such progress is reflected on herein to synthesize how these concepts have been understood and applied within the research process.

Methods: Through confessional tales, the researcher highlights his first-person experience of the dilemmas, uncertainty, and tensions in exploring interpersonal stress and well-being in sport. These tales unpack the conceptual, methodological, and moral difficulties experienced in the research process and are focused on three key areas: understanding the research landscape, emotional contagion within triadic interviews, and handling counter-transference in research.

Conclusions: In summary, these confessional tales highlight the lessons learned when trying to understand an underexplored research area. Key recommendations are provided for sport psychology researchers and practitioners that reinforces the importance of broadening conceptual and methodological horizons, and in developing greater understanding of interpersonal stress management tools.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021
EventDivision of Sport and Exercise Psychology Annual Conference 2021 - Crowne Plaza, Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Nov 202130 Nov 2021

Academic conference

Academic conferenceDivision of Sport and Exercise Psychology Annual Conference 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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