Critical Appraisal of Mental Toughness


To summarise

To summarise the last few posts, there are numerous, and varied, definitions of mental toughness, with many psychological attributes being linked or correlated to success, including the ability to handle pressure and adversity, resolve to overcome failures, or possession of superior mental skills for use during performance. Early definitions of mental toughness were based on the experience and opinion of sport professionals, including athletes and coaches and relied on analysis of largely self-report questionnaires rather than scientific investigation (Connaughton et al., 2013; Gucciardi, 2017).  

Despite criticism, the concept, model and theories of mental toughness continue to evolve (Gucciardi, 2017). The MTQ48, emerged from a significant body of research, is built on the construct of hardiness, and is used to explain stress reactions, in health psychology literature. Possibly due to its ease of use and scoring it remains the most widely used tool for the measurement of mental toughness in sport (Gucciardi et al., 2012; Vaughan et al., 2018).

Furthermore, recent research sampled elite, amateur athletes and non-athletes, and identified high levels of internal consistency in the MTQ48, with the six-factor model – including life and emotional control, along with confidence in interpersonal skills and abilities – resulting in an acceptable, and better fit than the four-factor model (Vaughan et al., 2018).

Measurement of mental toughness, along with the quantification of physiological parameters associated with performance, may provide insight into the relationship with environmental stressors in the endurance athlete. According to Fletcher (2005) the attributes of mental toughness, influence an individual’s appraisal and coping of a particular situation and subsequently moderate the relationship between stressors and cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses.

Connaughton D., Thelwell R., & Hanton S. (2013) ‘Mental Toughness Development – Issues, practical Implications and future directions’ in Daniel F Gucciardi and Sandy Gordon (Eds.),Mental Toughness in Sport – Developments in Theory and Sport (pp135-162), Abingdon: Routledge.

Fletcher, D. (2005). ‘Mental Toughness’ and human performance: Definitional, conceptual and theoretical issues. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 1246-1247

Gucciardi, D. F. (2017). Mental toughness: progress and prospects. Current Opinion in Psychology,16, 17-23. 

Gucciardi, D. F., Hanton, S., & Mallett, C. J. (2012). Progressing measurement in mental toughness: A case example of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,1(3), 194-214. 

Vaughan, R., Hanna, D., & Breslin, G. (2018). Psychometric properties of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48 (MTQ48) in elite, amateur and nonathletes. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,7(2), 128-140. 


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