Situational Differences in The Coping Processes of Basketball Campers



Psychometric Study

The role of situation in the stress and coping process of student athletes is significant. Scholars have suggested that coping strategies and their effectiveness can vary depending on the characteristics of the situation (Billings & Moos, 1981; Mattlin, Wethington, Kessler, 1990; McCrae, 1984; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978; Vitaliano, Russo, & Maiuro, 1987). Stress is experienced during the appraisal process, as indicated by Lazarus and Folkman (1984). They argue that both situational and personality factors contribute to the appraisal process, which, in turn, influences an individual’s coping behavior. Additional research supports this notion (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, Delongis, & Gruen, 1986; Parkes, 1984; Sellers & Peterson, 1993; Smith & Elsworth, 1987; Vitaliano, Russo, & Maiuro, 1987). According to Lazarus’s model, the objective situation indirectly influences coping by shaping the individual’s appraisal process

Lazarus’ model encompasses two distinct processes: cognitive appraisal and coping. Cognitive appraisal involves individuals’ assessment of whether a specific situation is relevant to their well-being and their evaluation of their capacity and available resources to manage that situation (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Within cognitive appraisal, two types of appraisal are identified: primary and secondary (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Primary appraisal refers to how individuals interpret the stressor itself, while secondary appraisal involves individuals’ evaluations of the options at their disposal to minimize harm or maximize benefits in the given situation (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). It is during this phase that various coping strategies are assessed. To attain more precise measurements of situational influences on individual behavior, Funder and Colvin (1991) propose the utilization of within-subject designs. Aligning with their recommendations, I examined the role of the objective situation in the coping and appraisal processes by employing a within-subject design.

KEY WORDS: Stress, Coping, Appraisal, Student-Athletes, Situational impact.

In this study, the aim was to explore the influence of the situation on the appraisal and coping processes among a sample of 120 basketball campers recruited from a basketball camp. To gain insights into how the situation affects the coping process of basketball campers in different environments (camp versus game), a content validity study was conducted to assess the coping potential of the basketball campers participating in the camp. Specifically, the focus was on understanding the impact of the situation on the appraisals and coping behaviors of the basketball campers during ball handling and 1-on-1 stressful situations. Within the coping framework proposed by Folkman and Lazarus, two primary functions of coping were considered: problem-focused strategies, which involve attempts to manage the stressful situation itself, and emotion-focused strategies, which involve efforts to deal with the negative emotions associated with the stressful situation (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

The athletes in the study engaged in both problem-focused coping, where basketball campers had some degree of control over the stress-inducing situation, and emotion-focused coping, which involved modifying their responses to the stress. Regarding coping strategies, the basketball campers employed accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance, and social support coping strategies more frequently in the camp setting. An analysis was conducted to compare coping differences between the two situations while accounting for appraisals. The results provided moderate evidence suggesting that the objective situation’s impact is reflected in the transactional nature of appraisal. The implications of the study’s findings for understanding game time performance stress and coping research are discussed. To ensure content validity, the study employed a comprehensive psychometric framework of coping styles, developed and validated by a sport psychologist, to compare aggregated data.

My study focuses on three specific research questions. Firstly, I investigate whether situational differences in athletes’ appraisal of problem-focused coping lead to variations in cognitive appraisal, particularly concerning the athletes’ perceived control over the stressful situation. Secondly, I examine whether there are situational differences in coping behavior among athletes. Lastly, I explore the presence of emotion-focused coping, where athletes have the ability to alter their responses to stress. To address these research questions, I carefully selected two potentially stressful situations that were familiar to the study participants. This approach ensures that any differences or similarities in coping between the situations can be attributed to the characteristics of the situations themselves, rather than being influenced by personality factors that may affect both the selection of stressful situations and the employed coping strategies. Furthermore, it was essential that the chosen stressful situations were ones in which the participants had a personal commitment.

Lazarus and Folkman (1984) argue that individuals are more susceptible to stress related to goals they are committed to. On the other hand, situations unrelated to personal commitments are less likely to be appraised as significant and, therefore, less likely to be perceived as stressful. Additionally, Mattlin and colleagues highlight the importance of differentiating between stressful events and ongoing difficulties (Mattlin et al., 1990). Stressful events refer to discrete occurrences that have concluded, while stressful difficulties pertain to ongoing situations. Consequently, it was crucial for both selected situations to be either stressful events or ongoing difficulties. Taking all these factors into consideration, it was necessary to ensure that the chosen situations had similar durations.

The participants in this study are basketball camp athletes, making them an ideal subject population. The study focuses on two specific situations that all basketball campers encounter: the first drill involving ball handling exercises, which tests their confidence, and the initial confrontation with a 1-on-1 offensive drill. The majority of basketball campers are committed to both roles of ball handler and 1-on-1 offensive player. Significant situational differences in cognitive appraisals are expected to emerge. Certain appraisals may be more prevalent in game situations, while other appraisals and coping strategies may be more frequently employed in camp situations.

For instance, it is anticipated that doubt is more likely to arise in the camp situation compared to the game situation. However, since basketball campers’ value both the camp and game roles, it remains uncertain which situation they would perceive as having the highest stakes. Therefore, no specific prediction is made regarding which situation is more likely to be appraised as posing the most risk. Regarding secondary appraisals, it is hypothesized that basketball players will perceive the camp situation as less emotionally taxing. Since playing time at the basketball camp is primarily determined by success in games rather than camp performance, most student-athletes likely feel more accomplished in camp situations than in game situations. Consequently, it is predicted that basketball players are more likely to perceive the camp situation as being more changeable compared to the game situation.

Similar to the appraisal differences across situations, it is expected that coping strategies will interact with the specific situations in such a way that certain coping strategies will be more prevalent in the camp situation, while others will be more prevalent in the game situation. Previous research has identified relationships between specific appraisals and corresponding coping responses (Carver & Scheier, 1994; Folkman et al., 1986; Sellers & Peterson, 1993). Considering the findings of these studies, it is predicted that the situation perceived as posing the highest risk by the basketball campers will result in a greater use of emotion-focused coping strategies, such as distancing, perceiving growth, and tension reduction. Additionally, it is predicted that the situation appraised as being the most changeable will lead to an increased utilization of problem-focused coping strategies, such as confrontive coping and planful problem-solving coping.

The fundamental assumption underlying this study is that the subjective interpretation of a situation, rather than the objective situation itself, plays a crucial role in understanding coping behaviors. Based on this perspective, it is hypothesized that the appraisal process will serve as a mediating factor between the situation and the coping behaviors exhibited by the basketball campers. Furthermore, it is expected that any observed situational differences in coping will diminish when the influence of the basketball campers’ cognitive appraisals, which are influenced by situational differences, is taken into account and controlled for.



Ninety members of a basketball camp, consisting of boys and girls aged 8 to 18, were invited to participate in this study. The online study focused on exploring the perceptions of basketball situations in relation to the appraisal of coping potential. The basketball camp itself had a total of 120 participants. The participants in this study were divided into different groups, some of which shared similar characteristics, while others had distinct characteristics. Among the 120 participants, 90 individuals took part in the study, resulting in a response rate of 75%. The breakdown of participants based on grade level was as follows: 9 participants were in third grade, 12 in fourth grade, 17 in fifth grade, 20 in sixth grade, 22 in seventh grade, 5 in ninth grade, 3 in tenth grade, and 2 in eleventh grade. This sample size is substantial and allows for meaningful statistical analyses and generalizations within the context of the study.

The response rate of 75% indicates that a substantial majority of the basketball campers agreed to participate in the study. This suggests a high level of interest and engagement among the campers. The study included a diverse group of participants, consisting of boys and girls aged 8 to 18. The breakdown of participants by grade level provides insights into the distribution of participants across different age groups, ranging from third grade to eleventh grade. The study involved a total of 90 participants out of the 120 individuals in the basketball camp. This sample size is substantial and allows for meaningful statistical analyses and generalizations within the context of the study. The participants were divided into different groups, some sharing similar characteristics and others having distinct characteristics. This grouping strategy provides an opportunity to explore potential differences and similarities in perceptions and coping potential among the participants based on their specific groupings.

It’s important to consider the possibility of sample bias, as the participants who chose to participate may not fully represent the entire population of the basketball camp. However, this can be mitigated to some extent by the large sample size and diverse age groups included in the study.


The questionnaires were administered in three different settings as part of this study. On the first day, during the final thirty minutes of the basketball camp, the participants were given the questionnaire. On the third day, the questionnaire was administered within the initial thirty minutes of the camp. Lastly, on the fifth day, after the majority of the day was spent playing 1-on-1 drills, the participants were provided with the questionnaire. All data collection was conducted online to avoid the risk of paper surveys getting lost during the camp. As a result, the response rate of 75% accurately represents the actual participation rate. Preliminary analyses were conducted to explore potential effects of the administration group and class on appraisals and coping strategies. These analyses revealed significant differences in appraisals and coping strategies across different groups or classes.

To minimize the likelihood of basketball campers providing socially desirable responses due to concerns about revealing potentially damaging information or facing consequences from evaluators, the Assessdo platform was used to ensure the anonymity of individual responses. The coaches provided detailed explanations to the basketball campers regarding the methods employed to guarantee the confidentiality of their questionnaire. The process of using Assessdo was thoroughly explained verbally and demonstrated to the participants. They were able to view a demonstration showing how their answers would not be seen by the evaluator, but rather how the system analyzed their cognitive responses to generate emotional appraisal responses. In addition, parents were informed about the study via an informed consent statement sent through email, emphasizing that their child’s participation was voluntary and that they could withdraw from the study at any point by not registering on the Assessdo site.


The questionnaire utilized in this study consisted of two videos. The first section aimed to gather demographic information, including the participants’ year at camp, race, gender, and grade level. This section also involved inquiries about the participants’ academic, athletic, and community goals. Additionally, participants were given the opportunity to select personality characteristics that best represented themselves.

The second section of the questionnaire video focused on assessing the coping strategies and cognitive appraisals used by the basketball campers in a specific stressful situation related to ball handling. Each participant was presented with an image of a child their age dribbling two basketballs while other campers observed. Subsequently, participants were asked to choose from a set of boxes, each representing a thought, to indicate their coping strategies and appraisals of the situation.

The third section of the questionnaire video examined coping strategies and cognitive appraisals in a stressful situation within the 1-on-1 ball handling domain. Similarly, participants were presented with a scenario depicting a familiar stressful encounter. They watched a video of the same child repeatedly losing the ball during a 1-on-1 game. Participants were then asked to select boxes corresponding to their thoughts, assessing their coping strategies and appraisals of the situation.

In the first round of coping strategy assessment in sections two and three, a software tool was used, which incorporated a Likert Scale. This scale combined qualitative, non-numerical data categorized using ordinal data, reflecting the order of values. It utilized discrete whole numbers to describe the ordered relationship among the observations of variables. The derived scales included: (1) positive coping and (2) negative factoring.

The second coping strategy assessment in sections two and three employed a software tool that prompted participants to recall a recent experience and rate the situation based on seven basic emotion dimensions. These dimensions encompassed happiness (indicating a rush of pleasure and positive feelings), sadness (reflecting a range of unhappiness), fear (conveying alertness and readiness for action), disgust (involving the five senses), anger (expressing self-contained activity directed at something or someone), surprise (representing an instinctual reaction to an unexpected event), and trust (signifying a connection to belief) (Paul Ekman, 1972).

Primary Appraisal

Primary appraisal was evaluated using a set of seven items previously identified in research as capturing different aspects of what individuals may perceive to be at stake during stressful situations (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986; Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986). Each item was examined individually in the analyses. The basketball campers were asked to rate their perception of ball handling at camp and the 1-on-1 game situation in terms of the extent to which they believed these situations could result in: 1) failure to achieve an important goal; 2) harm to their own health, safety, or well-being; 3) difficulties for a loved one in the world; 4) harm to a loved one’s emotional health or well-being; 5) loss of self-respect; 6) appearing incompetent; and 7) losing the affection of someone significant.

To assess primary appraisals, the basketball campers utilized a process that involved computing ranges of feelings and emotions. This approach aimed to examine specific reference points and characteristics of their perceptions, thoughts, and concerns. By employing this process, we aimed to minimize the potential influence of confirmation bias on our Pulse cognitive appraisal tool. Pulse, through the use of images and words, facilitated the translation of the basketball campers’ train of thought into actionable insights, allowing us to pinpoint critical areas and determine the severity, irritability, and nature of their thoughts. This helped identify whether the users viewed the content as a negative danger (including low risk, cautious, elevated risk, high risk, and severe risk) or as a positive aspect of well-being (such as positive thoughts, experiences, responses, purpose, and positive coping).

Secondary Appraisal

Secondary appraisal was evaluated using four items that examined the perceived options available to the basketball campers in both stressful situations. These items included: 1) the belief that they could not change or take action regarding the situation; 2) the recognition that they had to accept the circumstances; 3) the sense that they needed more information before they could act; and 4) the feeling of having to restrain themselves from doing what they wanted. The student-athletes were asked to reflect on how they emotionally felt they had coped with the situation.

Similar to the primary appraisal items, the secondary appraisal items were analyzed individually. The ratings of the secondary appraisal items were assessed using a combination of interpretive sequencing, emotional reflex, and responsive approaches. This tool aims to predict complex emotions and potential user outcomes by analyzing general emotions in a comprehensive manner. By employing this tool, instructors/systems can efficiently gather emotional perceptions, enhance emotional understanding, and identify general personality patterns, outliers, deviations, and anomalies, all while maintaining awareness of situational-perception dimensions. The results facilitate the comparison of ratings among respondents and settings, enabling a comparison of the user’s symptoms and behaviors with those of their peers. Ultimately, this allows for social-emotional monitoring, research on problem behaviors, assessment of social skills, and evaluation of emotional functioning within the contexts of personality development, adaptive behavior, and social-emotional well-being.

Analysis Strategy

To examine situational differences in primary and secondary appraisals among the basketball campers, I conducted three within-subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA). Planned contrasts were utilized to assess specific situational differences in individual appraisal items. Similarly, a within-subjects ANOVA with planned comparisons was employed to explore situational differences in coping strategies. Furthermore, I conducted a within-subjects ANOVA, incorporating situational difference scores in appraisals as covariates, to determine whether the inclusion of these covariates reduced situational differences in coping.

Study 1 – Data


Identifying Tools For Cognitive Appraisal

Assessdo introduces cognitive appraisal tools in emotion with situation-perception dimension. Each Assessdo psychometric tool involves measuring how an individual interprets social situations, copes with stressful events, and life crises based on their own beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. These measurements ultimately influence behavior, emotions, and attitudes. Each dimension considers that two people can experience the same situation but perceive it very differently based on their individual perspectives.

According to appraisal theories of emotion, thinking must occur first before experiencing emotion. Richard Lazarus was a pioneer in this area of emotion, and according to his theory, the sequence of events first involves a stimulus (context), followed by thought, which then leads to the simultaneous experience of a physiological response and the emotion.  Assessdo uses this theory to create the basis of its cognitive questionnaire tools.

Situation-perception dimensions influence an individual’s motivations and behaviors while reflecting how individuals psychologically interpret situations and predict subsequent behavior (Funder, 2016; Horstmann & Ziegler, 2019). Situation perceptions have been developed by investigating how people interpret daily-life situations, whereas appraisals have been developed by investigating how people interpret (intense) emotional situations. 

We use cognitive appraisal tools to examine the conceptual and methodological correspondence between situation perception in daily-life situations of different groups that are similar in characteristics and similar groups that are different in characteristics. Each construct provides deeper, more interpretive solutions to subjective data and conversation, affective in both interpersonal and intrapersonal evaluations. However, based on the idea that one bias system can impact hundreds of thousands of decisions, we focus our validations on cross-cultural competence.

The Pulse Appraisal Tool 

Recognizing that blind responses block the identifiers that an evaluator may use in conscious and unconscious bias, the Assessdo Pulse Appraisal Tool has the ability to capture a feeling from one stimulus (picture or text) while allowing the user to create multiple thoughts. Each stimulus provided in a Pulse cognitive appraisal question or picture is followed by words, representing national normed data from various researchers and psychologists. Words selected each represent a value of positive coping or negative factoring. Templates are culturally designed by researchers, psychologists, and resource professionals. Each template is designed with special consideration of each professional including their cultural values and beliefs; their level of knowledge about the community and culture involved in the evaluation; their interpersonal, relationship-building, and communication skills; how they value the differences between groups and individuals; their knowledge about different cultures and negative perceptions or stereotypes a group may face; and their awareness of the interaction between cultures.

The Pulse Appraisal Tool uses a proprietary process, computing ranges of feelings and emotions, in order to assess specific reference points and characteristics of perceptions, thoughts, and concerns. This process helps ensure that, consciously or unconsciously, confirmation bias does not taint our Pulse cognitive appraisal tool. Determining the severity, irritability and nature of each user’s thoughts; Pulse brings train of thought to action through pictures and words, pinpointing critical areas which helps identify if the user views content as a negative danger including low Risk, cautious, elevated risk, high risk, and severe risk; or a positive well-being including positive thoughts, positive experiences, responses, purpose, and positive coping.

There are various dimensions of situation-perception which relate directly to the appraisal of one of our most recent studies; coping potential. Our approach using  cognitive appraisal tools with situation-perception dimension design involves using statistical methods to evaluate the quality of the questionnaire including reliability and validity. Our software uses four criterions to determine the extent to which emotion-antecedent tools measure what they claim to measure.

Content Validity – Refers to the extent to which the appraisal covers all of the important aspects of the construct being measured..

Construct Validity – Degree to which the appraisal measures the underlying construct or theoretical concept it intends to measure.

Concurrent Validity – Degree to which the appraisal correlates with an external criterion measured at the same time, and predicts an external criterion measured in the future.

Predictive Validity – Degree to which predictions of an external criterion are measured in the future.

Catch A Feeling Appraisal Tool

The Assessdo Catch A Feeling Appraisal Tool provides emotion antecedents based on levels of emotions and color association, supported by a set of competencies that fundamentally revolve around recognizing and understanding patterns of user emotions; recognizing and understanding user emotions through aggregated cultural and environmental analysis based on thoughts and differences; recognizing probable psychological triggers, potential motivations, and outcomes of users.   There is scientific evidence that supports the idea of identifying and verbalizing complex generated emotions. Such scientific evidence exists on a color wheel designed by psychologist Robert Plutchik. Emotional basis allows for growth and development and is not a questionnaire, but rather a profile of an individual being built on a series of physiological reactions to events.

The Catch A Feeling Appraisal Tool combines interpretive sequencing, emotional reflex, and responsive approaches. Predicting generated complex emotions and potential user outcomes based on combined analysis of general emotions, this tool is designed to speed up how an instructor/system collects emotional perception, emotional understanding, general personality, patterns, outliers, deviations, and anomalies while staying present in situational-perception dimensions. The results allow for comparison of ratings across respondents and/or settings, in which the users symptoms and behaviors can be compared with those of their peers; ultimately allowing for social emotional monitoring, research to assess problem behaviors, social skills, and emotional functioning within personality development, adaptive behavior, and social-emotional functioning.

The Assessdo social-emotional assessment Catch A Feeling platform tool captures quantitative competencies and dispositions that help youth and adults succeed in school, career, and life. Our measurement tools are designed based on 5 crucial domains (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Decision Making, Social-Awareness, and Relationship Skills). The Assessdo Catch A Feeling platform tool uses industry standard psychometric tools to provide data that is reliable and valid according to test measures. Our assessment module’s validity measures SEL emotions for formative purposes using quantitative data through qualitative assessing. 

Assessdo uses a quantitative approach designed to convert emotions by encouraging youth and adults to describe their emotions in such a way that the system can instantaneously gauge without a loss of representation in the quality of data, a persons thoughts and emotions. For example, when an AI system processes qualitative data, there is a marginal percentage of accuracy; however when a person inputs data in relation to assigning emotions as numbers, they are self-reporting in a qualitative manner which gives the highest measure of quantitative accuracy.  

Our proposed computer adaptive assessment platform tools are a replication of a nationally normed study that is validated with the highest levels of reliability and provides a measure of growth overtime. The Assessdo assessment system provides SEL benchmark assessments indicating growth over time measures. Assessdo uses developed formulas that, from vast research, prove methods in capturing emotions. The results from our formative measurements provide deeper, more interpretive solutions to the five domains of SEL.  

The Catch A Feeling Appraisal tool is aligned with the Geneva Appraisal Method which is one of the prominent methods in capturing emotion. The Geneva Appraisal Questionnaire is the quantitative approach of data gathering while 3E is qualitative approach of data gathering.   The Geneva Appraisal Method also lends findings related to the social context of the emotional experience and the event, as well as questions on intensity, duration, and regulation of the emotional experience. In the framework for developing a user experience evaluation methodology integrates cognitive and affective/emotional components where the Cognitive components are instrumental and non-instrumental quality assessments of the human-technology-interaction by the user (Mahlke, 2002) and the Instrumental quality aspects are criteria like the usefulness and ease of use of a system (e.g. Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989).  

The Geneva Appraisal Questionnaire was developed by the members of Geneva Emotion Research Group on the basis of Klaus R. Scherer‘s component process model of emotion (CPM). The Component Process Model (CPM) (five components of emotion: cognitive, neurophysiological, motivational, expressive and subjective feeling) is Scherer’s major theory of emotions which regards emotions as the synchronization of many different cognitive and physiological components. The purpose of Geneva Appraisal Questionnaire is to assess, as much as is possible through recall and verbal report, the results of an individual’s appraisal process in the case of a specific emotional episode. To do so, the instrument contains questions that tap the appraisal criteria suggested by Scherer’s model.

According to Roseman‘s (1984) description emotion and affectivity is a multifaceted phenomena consisting of: 1. Cognitive appraisal. Only the events which are judged or appraised to have Significance for our goals, concerns, values, needs, preferences or well-being elicit emotion. 2. Subjective feelings. The appraisal is accompanied by feelings that are good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, and calm or aroused. 3. Physiological arousal. Emotions are accompanied by autonomic nervous system activity. 4. Expressive behaviors. Emotion is communicated through facial and bodily Expressions, postural and voice changes. 5. Action tendencies. Emotions carry behavioral intentions, and the readiness to act in certain ways.(Gabrys´-Barker 2011). Roseman (1984) emphasizes the significance of our value judgments as factors conducive to how we act in life and he points to the importance of our appraisal systems for effective functioning in life. According to Lazurus and Smith appraisals are generally seen as mostly affective and idiosyncratic in nature, based on one‘s own evaluation of values and factors that contribute to one‘s wellbeing‘ (Lazarus & Smith, 1993).