Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP


Mental toughness is one of the most commonly applied concepts in sports but also one of the least understood terms used by individuals in the athletic community (Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002). Mental toughness in sports is also characterized as the ability to be more consistent and better than opponents in remaining determined, focused, and confident under pressure (Jones et al., 2007). Despite the advancements in the cognitive understanding of mental toughness, little research has focused on evaluating the basis or rationality as to why or how mentally tough athletes possess the tendency to have an unshakeable confidence and belief in their abilities in the face of uncertainty. The purpose of the current study was to examine the possibility that mental toughness is related to the presence of specific cognitive distortions (e.g., minimization, magnification, all-or-nothing thinking, comparisons to others, emotional reasoning and decision making, should statements, and, particularly, perfectionism) after accounting for the factors already known to be related to mental toughness (i.e., age, gender, total years of playing experience). Results demonstrated that magnifications and comparisons to others were significantly, negatively correlated to mental toughness. Apparently, the less frequently athletes engage in blowing bad situations out of proportion to reality and comparing themselves unfavorably to others, the more mentally tough they are likely to be. These findings lend support to the integration of cognitive-behavioral interventions aimed at reducing athletes’ engagement in these specific types of distortions in order to improve mental toughness and, potentially, athletic performance.

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