A Comparative Study Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religiosity and Trait Anxiety Among College Student Athletes

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

Mark Maneval

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity and an athlete's trait anxiety levels. The intention of this study was to provide a basis for further research and lead to the development of further strategies to help cope and manage anxiety among athletes. The study focused on 208 college student athletes in the southeastern United States who attended universities located in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The athletic teams represented in this survey were football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, track/cross country, soccer, golf, volleyball, and cheerleading. Both males ( n = 127) and females ( n = 81) were incorporated into the study. A demographic questionnaire, the Religious Orientation Scale and the Sport Competition Anxiety Test were administered to the athletes. The instrumentation was administered by the principal investigator. The first hypothesis stated athletes would exhibit a negative relationship between intrinsic religiosity and trait anxiety. Hypothesis two stated athletes would exhibit a positive relationship between extrinsic religiosity and trait anxiety. Data collection from the survey was evaluated through Pearson correlation. Results of the data evaluation did not support the first or second hypothesizes, therefore, both were rejected. The findings of this study were supported by several previous studies with other subject groups (Francis & Bolger, 1997; Frenz & Carey, 1989; Schafer & King, 1990; Ushio, 1972). In summary, the lack of a relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity and trait anxiety may be attributed to the complexity of the religious experience. A person's relationship with God is very personal, just as one's relationship is with one's family. Often it is very difficult for individuals to express or describe their relationships due to a multitude of factors. These factors may be a conscious or unconscious effort in answering the questions with the politically correct answer, rather than give a true response. Finally, it is hypothesized that people, whether they be athletes or non-athletes, intrinsically or extrinsically religious, most probably gravitate to the center when they are asked to respond to spiritual questions.