Only my group will do: Evidence that social support protects athletes from burnout when they identify with those who provide it

Ross M. Murray*, Chris Hartley, Pete Coffee

*Corresponding author for this work

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Perceived availability of social support can reduce symptoms of burnout in athletes. As such, it is important to understand the circumstances under which perceived social support is most effective. Social influences such as strength of social identification with a particular group or identity are believed to play an important role in the provision and effectiveness of social support. Across two studies, we investigate whether social identification in a sport can strengthen the protective association between perceived social support and burnout. In Study 1, athletes completed questionnaires assessing perceptions of social support availability, social identification, and burnout. In Study 2, participants completed the same measures at systematic time points across a six-month timespan. In both studies, participants’ levels of social identification moderated the association between perceived social support and burnout, whereby there was a stronger negative relationship between social support and burnout when participants reported higher levels of social identification in their sport. These results indicate that social identity may play an integral role in improving the efficacy of social support on burnout.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102508
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date14 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2023


  • Moderation
  • Perceived support
  • Social identification
  • Sport drop out

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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