Human thriving
: a conceptualization, understanding, and application to sport

  • Daniel Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Sport performers encounter various stressors as part of their involvement in competitive sport, and their ability to respond effectively to these demands is likely to dictate whether they thrive, manage, or succumb in competition. The purpose of this thesis was to provide the first systematic exploration of thriving in sport. To achieve this, extant thriving literature is first reviewed and a conceptualization of human thriving proposed. Namely, it is suggested that thriving is the joint experience of development and success, which can be realized through effective holistic functioning and observed through the experience of a high-level of well-being and a perceived high-level of performance. Four empirical studies are then presented which examined and compared the experiences of sport performers who thrived in competitive encounters to those who did not. In Studies 1 and 2, results of factor mixture analysis (see Chapter 3, N = 535) and latent class growth analysis (see Chapter 4, N = 175) supported the presence of a unique thriving group and identified possible relationships with personal enablers (e.g., resilient qualities) and process variables (e.g., basic psychological needs satisfaction; BPNS). Study 3 (see Chapter 5, N = 51) extended these findings using a diary study design, demonstrating that pre-game levels of BPNS and challenge appraisal positively predicted in-game functioning; although no evidence was found to support the presence of biomarkers for thriving. Study 4 (see Chapter 6, N = 18) utilized mixed methods and revealed that, although many of the themes were similar for sport performers in thriving and non-thriving groups, substantial differences existed in the expression of these codes and in the relationships between them. Overall, the findings in this thesis make a meaningful advancement to the human thriving literature, and provide psychologists with an initial foundation upon which they can develop interventions to facilitate thriving in sport performers.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRachel Arnold (Supervisor) & Martyn Standage (Supervisor)

Cite this