Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Athletic competition, containing both psychological and physical components, has been shown to be associated with levels of testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) in anticipation of, and during, competition. In the current research, 16 male and 22 female members of a collegiate cross country team gave saliva samples before warm-up, after warm-up, and immediately after the finish of an intercollegiate cross-country meet. Finish times were recorded as a measure of performance outcome. Participants also completed the Mental Toughness in Sport Questionnaire (MTSQ). For both men and women, after-race levels of salivary C and T were substantially elevated relative to before and after warm-up levels. Among women, there was a significant interaction between before warm-up C and T in predicting finish time, such that low C predicted slower finish times only at lower levels of T. For males and females, the interaction of mental toughness beliefs and gender was revealed as a potentially important variable in explaining competition elevations of T and C. Increased hormone levels may result from physical exertion, the psychological effects of competition, or some combination of the two. Competition-related increases in C and T presumably benefit performance in cross country racing and other sports, but the exact character of these benefits remains to be determined.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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