Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Paper Session #90
Direct Versus Indirect Competition in Sports: A Review of Behavioral Interventions
Saturday, May 27, 2023
5:00 PM–5:25 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom H
Area: PCH
Chair: Scott A O'Donnell (S.A.O.B.A., LLC)
Direct Versus Indirect Competition in Sports: A Review of Behavioral Interventions
Domain: Theory
SCOTT A O'DONNELL (S.A.O.B.A., LLC), Amanda C. Philp (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University), Amanda Mahoney (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology )
Abstract: For over fifty years, numerous behavioral interventions have been applied across different sports to increase the performance of competing athletes (Martin et al., 2004; Schenk & Miltenberger, 2019). When a base of supporting literature has grown, systematic reviews can be used to summarize findings and help define the limits of generality of the procedures researched (Hagopian, 2020). In this review, sports were categorized by competition type according to the behavioral contingency and the role of the opponent, as defined by the rules of the sport. This categorization may serve researchers and practitioners in considering the impact of the opponent on the generality of behavior change, thus informing interventions and procedures. In direct competition sports, the opponent serves as an antecedent stimulus setting the occasion for, interfering with, changing the topography of, or otherwise influencing sports performance. In indirect competition sports, the opponent is prohibited from interference by rule and competition is limited to setting (or beating) a score or criteria. To assess direct and indirect competition sports, data were extracted from 64 experiments intervening to improve the performance of competing athletes across 18 sports. Despite stringent criteria, such as including studies with competing athletes only, these categories were equally represented. Results indicated some procedures were specific to a category and generality of intervention effects into competition settings was assessed more in direct than indirect competition sports experiments. Also, few experiments included participants competing at the highest levels. The limits of generality of sport behavior change into competition settings are discussed.



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