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Perceptions of empathic accuracy and assumed similarity in the coach–athlete relationship


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Sophia Jowett, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK (e-mail:


Drawing upon the methodology developed by Kenny and Acitelli (2001), this study examined empathic accuracy and assumed similarity in both parties' perceptions of coach–athlete relationships. One hundred and twenty-one coaches and athletes reported on their direct-perceptions and meta-perceptions of closeness, commitment and complementarity (3 Cs; Jowett & Cockerill, 2002), and of satisfaction with instruction, performance and external agents. There was evidence of both empathic accuracy and assumed similarity in coaches' and athletes' perceptions. Athletes were more accurate in identifying the specific content of their coaches' feelings in terms of closeness. Athletes and coaches from newly developed relationships displayed higher levels of empathic accuracy, whereas female athletes displayed higher levels of assumed similarity. Moreover, evidence suggested that athletes' and coaches' assumed similarity led to more accurate perceptions. Implications and future research directions are discussed.