Monitoring of personality characteristics of sports candidates
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https://www.eduzhai.net International Journal of Applied Psychology 2015, 5(5): 119-125 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijap.20150505.02 Monitoring of Personality Traits among Candidates of an Athletics Program Ivan S. Rabelo1, Katia Rubio2,*, Gabriela de C. M. Gonçalves3, Paulo Vinicius Carvalho Silva4 1Project manager at the Ayrton Senna Institute, Works with Research Construction and Adaptation of Tests, Scales and Other Psychological Measures of Education, Sport and Human Resources, Research at the Olympic Studies Group (GEO) 2Associate Professor of the School of Physical Education and Sports, University of São Paulo 3Specialist in Sport Psychology and Physical Activity at the Sedes Sapientiae Institute, Psychologist of the Instituto do Coração-HCFMUSP - Institute in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology. Researcher at the Olympic Study Group (GEO) and Diretory´member of the Association of Sports Psychology (ABRAPESP) 4Specialist in Sport Psychology by the Federal Council of Psychology - CFP, Currently Works as a Psychologist at the Empresa Brasil de Comunicação - EBC Abstract Diverse evaluative methodologies may strengthen more complex investigations of cognitive and emotional characteristics of athletes and actors present in the sporting context. The set of procedures that may contain interviews, scales and questionnaires, tests, observations, among other tools, are among the psychological evaluation techniques used in many different contexts. In sports, great emphasis has been given to research of psychological characteristics that contribute to high-performance sports practice, even though other areas can also be benefited such as physical activities and leisure, education for sports, sports training, among others. This study will highlight the use of psychological assessment in a selection process of candidates to a high-performance athlete development program, in which participants were submitted to a Neuroticism subscale of the Bateria Fatorial de Personalidade (BFP) (Personality Factor Battery). The results showed personality traits that differentiate the manual sample from the group of athletes. In addition, it was sensitive to the difference between the total sample collected from athletes and the group of candidates classified in the selection process. Other studies that investigated personality traits in the sporting context and discussions on the sport psychologist's role in relation to the psychological evaluation will also be presented. Keywords Personality, Sports, Athletes, High performance 1. Introduction There is a wide range of possibilities and research needs in the universe of Sports Science both related to the study of high-performance athletes and to physical activity regarded as sports such as free time practices and non-regulated and institutionalized physical activities. According to Rubio (2000), the term sport has been used to refer not only to high-performance athletes, professionalized sport, but also to physical activity in a broader and comprehensive manner. In high-performance sports, success is the result of a sum of physical, mental and technological factors for the highest goals to be achieved. Analyzing the subject, his specialties and needs, focusing on empirically-supported deep investigations will contribute to personal and professional understanding of the athlete, adapting methodologies to the specific characteristics of each sport modality and above all * Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org (Katia Rubio) Published online at https://www.eduzhai.net Copyright © 2015 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved each sportsman. In this sense, the professional evaluator should be committed with the best handling of the tooling, so that it is a challenge of the Sport Psychologist, not only being committed with the study of the chosen instrument, but of an assertive assessment that considers the individual as a whole, his history of life and the moment experienced by him (Rabelo, 2013). Thus, with a wide variety of studies and research, the Group of Olympic Studies of the School of Physical Education, University of São Paulo (GEO), coordinated by Professor Katia Rubio, has the purpose of understanding the areas of study and research related to sport psychology, sociology, history and philosophy, organizing and systematizing information on domestic and foreign production. These measures are expanding the knowledge of this production in articles and essays in journals, books and dissertations, as Giglio (2013), Lima (2012), Nascimento (2012), Nunes (2011), Rubio (2001; 2006; 2011), Angelo and Rubio (2007) among others. The increase in academic production and the expansion of study groups with the participation of undergraduate and graduate students also generate more involvement and interest of 120 Ivan S. Rabelo et al.: Monitoring of Personality Traits among Candidates of an Athletics Program students in the area. The following is among research lines: historical and cultural studies of human movement and its manifestation, sporting imagination, social psychology of human movement, olympism, philosophical and anthropological aspects of human movement and studies on leisure. Considering the wide variety of specificities in the sporting context involving issues related to the characteristics of different sport modalities, either of contact or not, collective or individual, competing with an opponent, a team, an index or the record, professionals working with Sport Psychology should have a broad look on characteristics involving skills, motivations, intensities, behaviors, etc., in the psychological environment of a sportsman. Therefore, assessing psychological aspects in the sports environment requires tools aimed at interpreting these multiple aspects in order to assist athletes and teams, increasing the chances of success of athletes and the sport as a whole. In this regard, the Group of Olympic Studies conducted a study to identify, from the application of the Neuroticism subscale of the Personality Factor Battery (Nunes; Hutz; Nunes, 2010), personality traits of participants in a selection process of candidates to high-performance athlete development program in Athletics, specifically in middle and long distance running events. The BFP is a personality battery used in psychology subdivided into five major groups. The Neuroticism subscale is the factor that describes emotional characteristics of people. This program has as main objective the training of Olympic medalist athletes. For this, planned, integrated and long-term work is essential, while also providing the learning of sport values such as discipline, sociability, solidarity, companionship, physical and motor development. The Institute responsible for the program is a private non-profit organization, classified as OSCIP (Public Interest Civil Society Organization), according to the Ministry of Justice, working in the third sector. According to Vieira (2007), athletics is considered the base sport, as the modality makes use of the main basic features of man. It includes events like running, jumping and throwing, all originating from natural and fundamental human activities since the dawn of civilization. Moreover, the development of these skills is essential for the performance or execution of sports or athletic movements in other sports, in addition to physical, mental and motor improvement. In a study in the context of athletics, Maresh and colleagues (1991) compared a group of runners and non-practitioners. The results indicated that these athletes were more introverted, thoughtful and had lower levels of anger compared to non-athletes. Some of these results contrast with the findings of Cox (1994) and Backmand and colleagues (2001), who respectively indicated that athletes are more extroverted or there are no differences between groups. Another result to be presented was the study by Dobosz and Beaty (1999), who concluded that athletes have greater leadership ability than non-athletes, considering above all aspects of extraversion and its nuances in the application of leadership. Inventories and scales are among the different types of instruments used in personality assessments. International researches have shown that these instruments are among the most used ones for personality assessment in collective applications, because they can generate important data to clinical practice (Piotrowski, 2000). Besides, personality assessment instruments through questionnaires bring benefits regarding the non-structured ones, since its items are empirically selected (Meehl, 2000). Based on the search of points in common between theories and models of personality, the Big Five Factor (BFF) was developed, composed by factors such as Neuroticism, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. Such model is also understood as an updated version of Trait Theory, which basic idea is that people present vast behavioral predispositions to respond in certain situations. To this theory the likelihood of a person to behave, feel or think in a certain way, also named tendency, is what defines a trait (Pervin & John, 2004; Hall, Lindzey & Campbell, 2000; Cloninger, 1999). With regard to studies of personality in the sports context, Bara Filho et al (2005) conducted an analysis of variance to verify the existence of statistically significant differences between each category of non-athletes and athletes of team sports such as volleyball and basketball and individual sports such as swimming and judo. It was observed that eight variables showed significant differences in the overall analysis, with factors like Inhibition, Irritability, Aggressiveness, Fatigability, Physical Complaints, Health Concerns, Frankness and Emotionality. However, other two variables indicate differences between groups: Self-realization and Humanitarian Spirit. 2. Method Participants 237 young athletes of a selection process of the Towards the Olympic Podium Program (PRPO) in the Federal District participated in data collection. The sample was composed of 84% male subjects with ages ranging from 14 to 21 years. Instrument This research used only the Neuroticism subscale of the Personality Factor Battery - BFP (Nunes; Hutz; Nunes, 2010). The first version of the Factorial Scale of Neuroticism (EFN) consists of 82 items divided into four subscales: vulnerability, psychosocial disturbance, anxiety and depression (Hutz; Nunes, 2001). The scale applied in this research was the version of Neuroticism subscale from the BFP test composed of 29 items that describe the following facets: Vulnerability to suffering (VU), emotional instability (IN), Passivity / Lack of energy (PA) and depression (DE). International Journal of Applied Psychology 2015, 5(5): 119-125 121 The Neuroticism factor has been considered in the Big Five Personality Factors model the most associated with the emotional characteristics of people. It refers to chronic level of adjustment and emotional instability of individuals and represents individual differences that occur when people experience emotional patterns associated with psychological discomfort (distress, anguish, grief, etc.) and the resulting cognitive and behavioral styles (Mccrae; John, 1992). People with high levels of neuroticism are likely to experience emotional suffering more intensely. Neuroticism also includes unrealistic ideas, excessive anxiety or difficulty tolerating frustration caused by the not satiation of a desire and inappropriate coping responses. Procedures The data collection procedure was carried out in a single application during one of the qualifying stages of the selection process for the formation of PRPO team of athletes, as previously described. The instruments were applied in the context and with research purpose, which means that it was not a process to exclude athletes. lower results in Neuroticism compared to the overall sample of scale standardization, and also in relation to the following facets: Vulnerability to suffering, Instability and Passivity. Regarding Depression, the result of athletes was higher compared with the general sample of this facet in the instrument manual. Table 2. Description of the score of athletes compared to the overall sample of scale standardization SCORE N Mean Median Modality SD Min Max Mean Manual SD Manual N Manual VU 237 3.02 2.78 2.33 1.23 1.00 6.67 3.49 1.23 3322 IN 237 3.05 3.00 4.00 1.17 1.00 7.00 3.68 1.42 3299 PA 237 3.00 2.72 2.00 1.18 1.00 6.83 3.45 1.24 2351 DE 237 2.51 2.25 1.50 1.10 1.00 5.75 2.33 1.11 3301 NEUR 237 2.90 2.73 1.35a 1.02 1.30 6.31 3.19 1.00 3291 3. Results Results of personality monitoring research in athletics The following information refer to results obtained collecting data from the Neuroticism subscale of the Personality Factor Battery (Nunes et al., 2010) in the group of sportsmen. The instrument accuracy was initially presented, followed by correlation studies and influence of variables such as age, gender, approval in process stages, among others, and also analyses of variations of averages of the total points in facets with respect to these variables. With regard to the overall scale accuracy considered as a general Neuroticism index, Cronbach's alpha of 0.93 was found. As the index appears to be satisfactory, i.e. greater than 0.70, it could be inferred that the test has a good level of precision, being considered a reliable instrument for measuring the respective construct in the group analyzed. The other facets showed the following satisfactory Cronbach's alpha indexes: VU = 0.85 (9 items); IN = 0.73 (6 items); PA = 0.74 (6 items) and DE = 0.77 (8 items). Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the sampling group Group de 237 young people Group of PRPO (30 young people) Gender Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage Male 199 84% Female 38 16% 26 86.7% 4 13.3% Mean age 16.63 (SD=1.667) 16.73(SD=1.721) To study the relationship of the scores of athletes, descriptive statistics are presented, as Table 2. Based on these data, it was observed that the group of athletes showed a. Multiple existing modalities. The lowest value is displayed. It was also checked whether there were statistically significant mean variations in the results of athletes by means of the Student t test of data found, comparing the 50 top-ranked athletes in the selection process with the others. Considering it is a process of selecting athletes, which relied on a multidisciplinary team for the selection of 50 candidates to continue in the process, it could be considered that these athletes would be "better prepared", featuring profile closest to expected for athletics. The results are shown in Table 3. Table 3. Comparison of mean values of 50 athletes in relation to other participants in the selection process Facets/Factor N Mean t p %tile Vulnerability 50 2.68 -2.20 30 < 0.05 187 3.11 -2.42 40 Emotional Instability 50 2.53 -3.59 30 < 0.001 187 3.18 -4.24 40 Passivity/ Lack of energy 50 2.66 -2.33 30 < 0.05 187 3.10 -2.74 45 Depression 50 2.22 -2.14 55 < 0.05 187 2.59 -2.36 65 50 2.52 -2.94 30 NEUROTICISM < 0.05 187 2.99 -3.45 45 * According to the manual BFP (NUNES et al., 2010). The results of table 3 suggest statistically significant mean differences among all personality variables investigated for both Neuroticism factor as its facets. These results, though not showing percentile differences that would justify changing the interpretation of the magnitude of results 122 Ivan S. Rabelo et al.: Monitoring of Personality Traits among Candidates of an Athletics Program among the 50 top-ranked and the others according to the test manual, indicate lower average for this first group, as can be seen in the chart of Figure 1. The graph in Figure 2 shows the scores between groups. Vulnerability / Instability / Passivity / Depression / NEUROTICISM Vulnerability / Instability / Passivity / Depression / NEUROTICISM 50 athletes / Athletics group / Manual sample Athletics group / Manual sample / 30 athletes Figure 2. Comparison of the mean values of 30 finalists in relation to other participants and mean values of the instrument manual Figure 1. Comparison of mean values of the team of 50 athletes in relation to other participants and mean values of the instrument manual Thus, considering that this factor describes emotional characteristics of people, according to the interpretation suggested in the instrument manual, low scores indicate individuals generally calmer, relaxed, stable and less agitated. However, low scores do not necessarily mean that the individual has good mental health. Higher scores indicate that individuals are more likely to experience more intensely emotional distress with ideas dissociated from reality, excessive anxiety, difficulty to tolerate frustration caused by the non-fulfillment of desires and inappropriate coping responses, anxiety, hostility, depression, low self-esteem, impulsiveness and vulnerability. Thus, athletes selected for the next stage showed, from the point of view of Neuroticism, more appropriate responses to the context, including greater emotional stability, lower tendency to emotional distress, lower passivity etc. Continuing studies, it was also sought to highlight whether variations between results of athletes were statistically significant through the Student t test, comparing the 30 top-ranked athletes in the selection process - which were included in the Program team - with others that have not been approved in previous stages of the selection process. The results are shown in Table 4. Table 4. Comparison of the mean values of 30 athletes in relation to other participants in the selection process Facets/Factor Vulnerability Emotional Instability Passivity/ Lack of energy N Mean t p %tile 30 2.69 -1.59 30 0.112 207 3.07 -1.79 40 30 2.52 -2.68 30 < 0.05 207 3.12 -3.90 40 30 2.75 -1.25 35 0.214 207 3.04 -1.44 45 These results allow inferring that this team of finalists presents low scores in facet Emotional Instability, suggesting relatively more stable mood, with minor manifestations of impulsivity and tendency to higher tolerance to frustrations, when compared to the other athletes who did not compose the group of finalists. Individuals with lower Depression scores tend to have very positive expectations regarding their future, believing in their ability to deal with any difficulties that may occur. The reader must be inquiring if the results regarding the comparison between the 50 young top-ranked and the 30 selected athletes show differences. However, no significant differences were observed when comparing the averages of these 30 young people with the group of 50 athletes, which also include the 20 young people who have not passed the final stage of the selection process. Table 5. Comparison of averages of athletes in relation to the scale manual Facets/Factor Vulnerability Emotional Instability Passivity/ Lack of energy Depression Team 50 athletes 30 athletes Athletics group Manual Sample 50 athletes 30 athletes Athletics group Manual Sample 50 athletes 30 athletes Athletics group Manual Sample 50 athletes 30 athletes Athletics group N 50 30 237 3322 50 30 237 3299 50 30 237 2351 50 30 237 Mean 2.68 2.69 3.02 3.49 2.53 2.52 3.05 3.68 2.66 2.75 3.00 3.45 2.22 2.11 2.51 Depression 30 2.11 -2.15 50 < 0.05 207 2.57 -2.63 65 30 2.52 -2.19 30 NEUROTICISM < 0.05 207 2.95 -2.84 45 * According to the BFP manual (Nunes; Hutz; Nunes, 2010). Manual Sample 3301 2.33 50 athletes 50 2.52 30 athletes 30 2.52 NEUROTICISM Athletics group 237 2.90 Manual Sample 3291 3.19 Regarding differences between groups, it was observed that the team showed statistically significant mean differences in relation to facets Emotional Instability and Depression and with the Neuroticism factor, indicating lower mean values for the team of the 30 selection process finalists. It is emphasized that the results of this research showed a high degree of reliability of the scale, i.e., the variability among responses does not occur by chance but rather due to aspects linked to the athletes’ personality. This is important so that the scale is considered valid, which allows to be used International Journal of Applied Psychology 2015, 5(5): 119-125 123 NEUROTICISM Depression Passivity Instability Vulnerability Subjects N Mean S D t gl (df) p in other studies and also in future scale reapplication to the same group of athletes. Table 5 shows data on the comparison between groups. Finally, Figure 3 shows the differences between scores of different groups of sportsmen and the group regarding the instrument manual. No significant differences between the different groups of sportsmen at different times of the selection were found. However, data differ from the manual sample for this factor when compared to the group of athletes, which would be an initial evidence of the need for specific rules regarding this sport. Vulnerability / Instability / Passivity / Depression / NEUROTICISM 30 athletes / 50 athletes Athletics group / Manual sample Figure 3. Comparison of the mean values of scores between the group of sportsmen and the instrument manual Table 6. Comparison of means through variable gender Male 199 2.93 1.16 -2.72 235 0.007 Fem. 38 3.51 1.37 Male 199 2.98 1.14 -1.88 235 0.061 Fem. 38 3.37 1.29 Male 199 3.01 1.16 -0.07 235 0.946 Fem. 38 3.02 1.31 Male 199 2.50 1.11 -0.48 235 0.629 Fem. 38 2.59 1.07 Male 199 2.85 1.01 -1.50 235 0.136 Fem. 38 3.12 1.08 To evaluate the influence of variable age on the data obtained, analysis of variance (ANOVA) with 0.05 significance level was used to analyze differences in this age group. However, the results did not suggest significant differences in relation to variable age and the scores and percentiles achieved by the participants. Although there are differences in the results and empirical observations, in studies com paring means using ANOVA and Pearson correlation, the age of athletes did not show statistically significant differences, demonstrating that the variable age does not present variations in this group. Finally, variations in results of athletes in relation to gender were also investigated. To this end, Student t test data found comparing the results of men and women was performed. The data can be analyzed in Table 6. Regarding differences between genders, it was observed that only facet Vulnerability to suffering showed statistically significant mean differences, indicating lower means for males. This result allows us inferring that men have low scores in facet Vulnerability to suffering and showed a tendency to be emotionally more independent compared to women. They may also indicate less concern of young men with the opinions of others and less need to please others in their daily actions and choices, compared to female athletes. 4. Conclusions This study aimed to investigate personality traits of young athletes. The sample participated in a selection process for a high-performance athlete development program. Satisfactory reliability indexes were found in instruments, allowing inferring a good level of test accuracy. The results found that the sample of the sporting context and the mean values of the test standardization sample were statistically and significantly different in some facets in the neuroticism sub-factor, both when comparing the test standardization sample data and among modalities in certain variables of the BFP, corroborating findings of Rabelo (2013). Further studies and evidence are needed due to inconsistencies among studies conducted in the area. Further studies should increase the number of sports analyzed and include athletes and non-athletes, or even as this research, they should include athletes and normative data of manual instruments, as such studies may contribute to the analysis of adaptation of certain tests the sporting context. In addition, specific tables for athletes could be established, whenever possible and necessary. Predictive validity studies, longitudinal studies that allow evaluating the development of the athlete's personality since first years until he reaches high performance, comparing performance levels between different samples, among many other important and necessary investigations, will allow professionals of the sports context to use different tools for understanding our study object, the "athlete-human being". Given the importance of the psychological assessment as an integrated process covering several stages, one of which involving the use of psychological instruments (Anastasi; Urbina, 2000; Pasquali, 2001), this study has contributed to the deepening of research of personality traits in sportsmen. Pasquali (2010) states that psychological tests should ensure the basic psychometric characteristics for their use, allowing qualifying an assessment as scientifically supported. In the instrument selection process, it could be found only tests that partially meet these requirements, requiring an analysis that investigates to which extent the test measures the aspect one 124 Ivan S. Rabelo et al.: Monitoring of Personality Traits among Candidates of an Athletics Program intends to measure. Despite the progressive emergence of studies and research within the context of the Sport and Exercise Psychology, there are still few studies on personality traits of athletes, or even the publication of psychological assessment tools. However, a mitigating inconsistency refers to scientific disinterest of the public sector in investing in this type of research, and even more by the private sector, especially represented by sports clubs. Such institutions should find in research a great source of scientific information and could be benefited rather than to support their decisions on non-empirical data. It is common knowledge that many professional clubs do not have psychology professionals in their staffs, not benefiting from the knowledge of this science and its specificities. Rubio (2010) explains that in addition to specific knowledge brought of psychology such as the use of diagnostic tools and intervention models, it is essential to stress aspects related to the professional who will act in the sporting context. It is essential that the professional has a broad notion of issues related to the universe of the sportsman, from aspects of the athlete's point of view such as notions of physiology, biomechanics, specific characteristics of sports, rules, as well as the dynamics of sports groups. This set of knowledge and skills is needed as the work in Sport Psychology involves people and groups that are in a particular sporting context, training and competitions, for example, interacting with a restrictive environment composed of periods of withdrawal, concentration etc. Concerning the theoretical basis under which the test was structured, it is noteworthy that the Big Five Personality Factors are considered a relevant empirical approach in the few studies on personality and sport, but with gaps to be better investigated. However, due to the above, either through the highlighted data or information of other reported studies, there seems to be a relationship between sports and the construction of personality in varying degrees, due to the influence of external variables such as those described in these studies, and many others to be investigated. Further studies should be conducted with personality research tools in athletes searching to a greater psychic and emotional understanding of these individuals, considering the determinants of sports in specific situations of the game, workouts and competitions in order to contribute with coaches, technical staff and especially athletes. In short, the results obtained in this study are associated with concerns of the scientific community and the Federal Council of Psychology (CFP), since it aims to overcome the lack of psychological instruments used in Brazil and to restrict erroneous practices, which makes clear the need to adapt and improve instruments and methods used in psychological assessment (Noronha, Baldo; Almeida, 2004). In this regard, Sport Psychologists must work carefully and with scientific accuracy to understand the sports practice so that psychology is not converted into an area that simplifies the sport phenomena. Therefore, adequate attention should be given to the standardization of psychological tests as a means to increase the likelihood that the psychological assessment tools are increasingly appropriate to the work of professionals, thus significantly contributing to the interpretation of results. Assessment in the sporting context has many particularities, considering that individuals often are much more concerned in approval and high-performance than in self-care in physical and psychological terms. For example, an injured athlete may attempt to conceal the absence of injury in order not to be removed from the competition. Thus, to analyze the content and judge the use of any psychological test, the psychologist should have extensive theoretical and practical knowledge both as regards to the application and correction as in the interpretation of the data obtained (Nogueira, 2007). Considering that the success of individuals is largely determined by their individual characteristics, by means of the different research that deal with socio-emotional characteristics and their impact on education, work, sports, economy etc., aligned with this purpose, the scientific community, particularly psychologists and sports educators strive to understand how individual characteristics determine success in different welfare dimensions as well as how these features are able to influence the development and performance in the sports context (Perez; Rabelo, Rubio, 2013). Importantly, the Sport Psychology is the interface of psychology with Physical Education and Sport. If on the one hand, exclusive psychology tests may not be the most appropriate for the evaluation of athletes and sporting contexts, on the other, the large amount of evaluation tools developed without theoretical and methodological consistency leads to a weakening of results already published being generalized for other studies and situations. This has some serious consequences for the sport area. As explained by the Sport Committee of CRP-SP, all diagnostic procedure involves approach, analysis and response to the person concerned and the effectiveness of this process lies in the posture that the professional involved has on the results obtained. In other words, researchers, teachers and professionals involved in psychological strongly argue that a single test alone is not definitive, nor absolute, nor final. It records the reality that the evaluated person lives and since the human being is dynamic and changeable, this evaluation can also be transformed (Rabelo, 2013). Most psychological tests could be used in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, provided that they met the minimum conditions, among them being properly validated and standardized for the Brazilian reality, desirably adapted to the sports field and applied and evaluated by trained psychologists, since misinterpretations can cause serious damage to the mental health of individuals (Thomas, 1994). It is extremely important that the people directly or indirectly involved such as athletes, coaching staff, referees, parents and psychologists recognize that the psychological evaluation is the result of a process in which the results of a decontextualized test will not bring benefits to the International Journal of Applied Psychology 2015, 5(5): 119-125 125 understanding of the subject being evaluated.  Nogueira, C.M. (2007). Testes projetivos de diagnóstico e intervenção na psicologia do esporte. In L.F. Angelo & K. Rubio. Instrumentos de Avaliação Psicológica em Psicologia do Esporte. 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