The thin line: a phenomenological study of mental toughness and decision-making in elite, high-altitude mountaineers

Crust, Lee, Swann, Christian and Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn (2016) The thin line: a phenomenological study of mental toughness and decision-making in elite, high-altitude mountaineers. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 38 (6). pp. 598-611. ISSN 0895-2779

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.2016-0109

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The thin line: a phenomenological study of mental toughness and decision-making in elite, high-altitude mountaineers
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Abstract

Mental toughness (MT) is a key psychological variable related to achievement in performance domains and perseverance in challenging circumstances. We sought to understand the lived-experiences of mentally tough high-altitude mountaineers, focusing primarily upon decisions to persevere or abort summit attempts. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 14 mountaineers including guides, expedition leaders, and doctors (Mage = 44 years). A content analysis was employed to identify
key themes in the data. Participants emphasised the importance of MT in extreme environments and described rational, flexible, and vigilant decision-making. Turning around without summiting was the toughest decision reported, with recognition of the thin line between persevering and over-stretching. In contrast to much MT literature, mountaineers accepted limits, demonstrated restraint, and sacrificed personal goals to aid others. Costly perseverance was also reported with some mountaineers described as “too tough”: over-competitive, goal-obsessed, and biased decision-makers. These findings revealed both benefits and dangers of MT in mountaineering.

Keywords:Psychology, Mental toughness, High-altitude mountaineers, Mountaineers, Climbing, Phenomenology, Mountaineering, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:25317
Deposited On:07 Dec 2016 15:56

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