Advancing mental toughness research and theory using personal construct psychology

Daniel F. Gucciardi, Sandy Gordon, James A. Dimmock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


This review is designed to advance current conceptualizations of mental toughness in sport as well as identify avenues for future research by offering a fresh perspective using Kelly's (1955/1991) personal construct psychology (PCP). After reviewing sport-general and sport-specific research contributing to current perspectives on mental toughness, we highlight the need for theoretically driven research in the area. Following this, we provide an overview PCP and offer a conceptual model grounded in PCP which attempts to organize the knowledge base as well as provide a platform for future research. In integrating previous research with PCP, we propose a construct definition in which the multidimensional nature of mental toughness, its usefulness for dealing with and thriving through both positively and negatively construed situations, and the processes by which this occurs are highlighted. Specifically, mental toughness is defined as a collection of values, attitudes, emotions, and cognitions that influence the way in which an individual approaches, responds to, and appraises demanding events to consistently achieve his or her goals. To conclude, methodological and conceptual limitations associated with previous research are examined and the PCP model of mental toughness presented here is employed to identify avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-72
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Experience cycle
  • Mental toughness
  • Personal construct psychology
  • Positive psychology


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