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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  PSYCHOLOGY 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2018 June;58(6):933-43

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07245-0

Copyright © 2017 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Cognitive and personality factors in the regular practice of martial arts

Rosa A. FABIO, Giulia E. TOWEY

Department of Cognitive Sciences, Psychology, Education and Cultural Studies, University of Messina, Messina, Italy


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BACKGROUND: The effects of regular practice of martial arts is considered controversial and studies in this field limited their attention to singular psychological benefits. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the regular practice of martial arts and cognitive and personality factors, such as: attention, creativity and school performance, together with, self-esteem, self-efficacy and aggression.
METHODS: The design consists in a factorial design with two independent variables (groups and age levels) and seven dependent variables (attention, creativity, intelligence, school performance, self-esteem, self-efficacy and aggression). Seventy-six people practicing martial arts were compared with a control group (70 participants) not involved in any martial arts training. Martial artists were divided into groups of three levels of experience: beginners, intermediate and experts. Each completed a battery of tests that measured all the cognitive and personality factors.
RESULTS: Martial artists presented a better performance in the attentional and creativity tests. All the personality factors analyzed presented a significant difference between the two groups, resulting in higher levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy, and a decrease of aggressiveness.
CONCLUSIONS: Regular practice of martial arts can influence many functional aspects, leading to positive effects on both personality and cognitive factors, with implications in psychological well-being, and in the educational field. The results were discussed with reference to theories claiming that regular activity has a differential positive effect on some aspects of cognition.


KEY WORDS: Attention - Aggression - Cognition - Martial arts - Motor activity

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