Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


The experiences of cognitive and somatic competitive state anxiety in Special Olympics athletes and their family members or significant others was explored. This study used a multimethod approach to examining this construct to learn how performance anxiety is best understood in these athletes, who were identified on the basis of their eligibility to participate in the Special Olympics as determined by the inclusion criteria set by the state in which the research was conducted. Two methods were used including: completion of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory by both athletes and parents, coaches, volunteers, or significant others prior to competition: and a qualitative measure in which athletes were asked to name five words to describe themselves as they thought about their competition. Twenty-one non-athlete participants and 167 participant athletes agreed to participate in this study. Results from the current study yielded a significant difference in the average CSAI-2 cognitive subscale scores for the Special Olympics athletes when compared to the published scale norms such that the Special Olympics athlete had a lower average score. No significant differences were found when comparing these norms to the average somatic subscale score for the Special Olympics athlete. Significant differences were found on the cognitive and somatic subscale scores for the mean scores of the non-athlete participants, when compared to the published norms, with the latter being higher than the former on both subscales. Results of this study also yielded a significant difference between the cognitive and somatic subscale scores for the Special Olympics athlete, with the former being higher than the latter. Conclusions from this study suggest the possibility that athletes in this sporting venue experience levels of somatic competitive state anxiety comparable to the high school, college, and elite athletes for which the CSAI-2 was normed and suggest the possibility that cognitive anxiety should be further explored in athletes with intellectual disabilities to better understand the significant difference.

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