Homepage for Dr. John Dunn

(Last updated: September 2019)


John G.H. Dunn




Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation

Area of Study:

Sport Psychology










Click here to view my (1) 2019/20 teaching duties, (2) information for prospective graduate students, (3) publications, (4) applied sport psychology work, and (5) considering a career in applied sport psychology?


My first Olympics: Torino 2006


1. Primary Teaching Duties For Upcoming Year (2019-2020)

I am teaching two undergraduate classes in the fall semester: Statistics (KIN109) and Sport Participation in Children and Youth (KIN338). In the winter semester I will be teaching a graduate course in sport psychology (KIN544). 



2. Information for Prospective Graduate Students

I plan on retiring in 2022. Therefore, I am no longer considering applications from prospective graduate students.

Students who are interested in getting specific information about the formal application process to the graduate program in Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation (including deadlines and application materials) should contact Ms. Elisha Krochak (KSRgrad.info@ualberta.ca). Elisha is the Graduate Programs coordinator in our Faculty. Elisha works with the Associate Dean, Graduate Program, Dr. Normand Boule [nboule@ualberta.ca]).   


3. Refereed Journal Publications (chronological order)


Lizmore, M.R., Dunn, J.G.H., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Hill, A.P. (2019). Perfectionism and performance following failure in a competitive golf-putting task. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 45, 101582. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101582 


Guenter, R.W., Dunn, J.G.H., & Holt, N.L. (in press). Talent identification in youth ice hockey: Exploring “intangible” player characteristics. The Sport Psychologist. doi:10.1123/tsp.2018-0155


Dunn, J.G.H., Gotwals, J. K., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Lizmore, M. R. (2019, February). Perfectionism, pre-competitive worry, and optimism in high-performance youth athletes. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2019.1577900


Pynn, S.R., Dunn, J.G.H., & Holt, N.L. (2019). A qualitative study of exemplary parenting in competitive female youth sport. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 8, 163-178.


Cormier, D.L., Dunn, J.G.H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2019). Examining the domain specificity of grit. Personality and Individual Differences, 139, 349-354. 


Vaartstra, M., Dunn, J.G.H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2018). Perfectionism and perceptions of social loafing in competitive youth soccer. Journal of Sport Behavior, 41, 475-500.


Neely, K.C., Dunn, J.G.H., McHugh, T.-L.F., & Holt, N.L. (2018). Female athletes’ experiences of positive growth following deselection in sport. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 40, 173-185.


Lizmore, M.R., Dunn, J.G.H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2017). Perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, and reactions to poor personal performances among intercollegiate athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 33, 75-84.


Neely, K.C., McHugh, T.-L.F., Dunn, J.G.H., & Holt, N.L. (2017). Athletes and parents coping with deselection in competitive youth sport: A communal coping perspective. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 30, 1-9.


DeBeaudrap, H., Dunn, J.G.H., & Holt, N.L. (2017). Female varsity athletes’ perceptions of how they became optimistic in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 31, 30-41.


Dunn, J.G.H., Gotwals, J.K., Causgrove Dunn, J., Selzler, A-M., Lizmore M.R., Vaartstra, M., Sapieja, K.M., & Gamache, V.E. (2016). A multi-sample investigation of the higher-order latent dimensionality of the Sport-Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-2. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 27, 150-156.


Neely, K.C., Dunn, J.G.H.., McHugh, T-L.F., & Holt, N.L. (2016). The deselection process in competitive female youth sport. The Sport Psychologist, 30, 141-153.


Lizmore, M.R., Dunn, J.G.H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2016). Reactions to mistakes as a function of perfectionism and situation criticality in curling. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 47, 81-101.


Rasquinha, A., Dunn, J.G.H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2014). Relationships between perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns and competitive sport level. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15, 659-667.


Dunn, J.G.H., Causgrove Dunn, J., Gamache, V., & Holt, N.L. (2014). A person-oriented examination of perfectionism and slump-related coping in female intercollegiate volleyball players. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 45, 298-324.


Gotwals, J. K., Stoeber, J., Dunn, J G. H., & Stoll, O. (2012). Are perfectionistic strivings in sport adaptive? A systematic review of confirmatory, contradictory, and mixed evidence. Canadian Psychology, 53, 263-279.


Dunn, J.G.H., Causgrove Dunn, J., & McDonald, K. (2012). Domain-specific perfectionism in intercollegiate athletes: Relationships with perceived competence and perceived importance in sport and school. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 747-755.


Jones, M. I., Dunn, J. G. H., Holt, N. L., Sullivan, P. J., & Bloom, G. A. (2011). Exploring the '5Cs' of positive youth development in sport. Journal of Sport Behavior, 34, 250-267.


Sapieja, K.M., Dunn, J. G. H., & Holt, N. L. (2011). Perfectionism and perceptions of parenting styles in male youth soccer. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33, 20-39.


Dunn, J. G. H., Craft, J., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Gotwals, J.K. (2011). Comparing a domain-specific and global measure of perfectionism in competitive female figure skaters. Journal of Sport Behavior, 34, 25-46.


Gotwals, J. K., Dunn, J. G. H., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Gamache, V. (2010). Establishing validity evidence for the Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-2 in intercollegiate sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 423-432.


Gotwals, J. K., & Dunn, J. G. H. (2009). A multi-method multi-analytic approach to establishing internal construct validity evidence: The Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale - 2. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 13, 71-92.


Causgrove Dunn, J., Dunn, J. G. H., & Bayduza, A. (2007). Perceived athletic competence, sociometric status, and loneliness in elementary school children. Journal of Sport Behavior, 30, 249-269.


Vallance, J. K. H., Dunn, J. G. H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2006). Perfectionism, anger, and situation criticality in competitive youth ice hockey. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 28, 383-406.

Holt, N. L., & Dunn, J. G. H. (2006). Guidelines for delivering personal-disclosure mutual-sharing team building interventions. The Sport Psychologist, 20, 348-367.

Causgrove Dunn, J., & Dunn, J. G. H. (2006). Perceptions of the motivational climate, perceived competence, and participation behaviors of children with movement difficulties in physical education. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 23, 293-309.

Dunn, J. G. H., Gotwals, J. K., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Syrotuik, D. G. (2006). Examining the relationship between perfectionism and trait anger in sport. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4, 7-24.

Dunn, J. G. H., Causgrove Dunn, J., Gotwals, J. K., Vallance, J. K. H., Craft, J. M., & Syrotuik, D. G. (2006). Establishing construct validity evidence for the Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7, 57-79. 

Dunn, J. G. H., Gotwals, J. K., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2005). An examination of the domain specificity of perfectionism among intercollegiate student-athletes. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1439-1448.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Holt, N. L. (2004). A qualitative investigation of a personal-disclosure mutual-sharing team building activity. The Sport Psychologist, 18, 363-380.

Holt, N. L., & Dunn, J. G. H. (2004). Toward a grounded theory of psychosocial competencies and environmental conditions associated with soccer success. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 16, 199-219.

Holt, N., & Dunn, J. G. H. (2004). Longitudinal idiographic analyses of appraisal and coping responses in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5, 213-222.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Holt, N. L. (2003). Collegiate ice hockey players' perceptions of the delivery of an applied sport psychology program. The Sport Psychologist, 17, 351-368.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Syrotuik, D. G. (2003). An investigation of multidimensional worry dispositions in a high contact sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 4, 265-282.

Gotwals, J. K., Dunn, J. G. H., & Wayment, H. (2003). An examination of perfectionism and self-esteem in intercollegiate athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 26, 17-38.

Dunn, J. G. H., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Syrotuik, D. G. (2002). Relationship between multidimensional perfectionism and goal orientations in sport. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 24, 376-395.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (2001). Relationships among the Sport Competition Anxiety Test, the Sport Anxiety Scale, and the Collegiate Hockey Worry Scale. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13, 411-429.

Dunn, J. G. H., Causgrove Dunn, J., Wilson, P., & Syrotuik, D. G. (2000). Reexamining the factorial composition and factor structure of the Sport Anxiety Scale. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 22, 183-193.

Dunn, J. G. H. (1999). A theoretical framework for structuring the content of competitive worry in ice hockey. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 21, 259-279.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Causgrove Dunn, J. (1999). Goal orientations, perceptions of aggression, and sportspersonship in elite male youth ice hockey players. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 183-200.

Dunn, J. G. H., Bouffard, M., & Rogers, W. T. (1999). Assessing item content-relevance in sport psychology scale-construction research: Issues and recommendations. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 3, 15-36.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Nielsen, A. B. (1996). A classificatory system of anxiety-inducing situations in four team sports. Journal of Sport Behavior, 19, 111-131.

Dunn, J. G. H. (1994). Toward the combined use of nomothetic and idiographic methodologies in sport psychology: An empirical example. The Sport Psychologist, 8, 376-392.

Dunn, J. G. H., & Nielsen, A. B. (1993). A between-sport comparison of situational threat perceptions in ice hockey and soccer. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 15, 449-465.

Bouffard, M., & Dunn, J. G. H. (1993). Children’s self-regulated learning of movement sequences. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64, 393-403.


  4. Applied Sport Psychology Work

Since 1995 I have worked with a number of high-performance athletes and sports teams as a performance psychology consultant. Until 2002 the majority of my applied work was at the intercollegiate level with the sports of ice hockey (University of Alberta Golden Bears) and field hockey (University of Alberta Pandas). However, over the last 15 years I have spent the majority of my time working with elite national/international and professional athletes. I have had opportunities to work with the Canadian women’s field hockey team, the Canadian men’s and women’s biathlon teams, the Canadian men’s alpine ski team, the Canadian men’s water polo team, and several NHL teams. My primary focus has been with Team Koe (Canadian men’s curling). This work has given me opportunities to “ply my trade” at major international events throughout the world including the Pan Am Games, World Championships, and Winter Olympics. I also have had opportunities to conduct performance psychology seminars with various branches of the military, law enforcement agencies, Own the Podium, and the Canadian Olympic Committee.




“Cooling Off” after winning the 1998/99 CIAU hockey national championship in Saskatoon. I’m the guy taking the Gatorade shower. (The players responsible for this little prank paid for their actions on the bus-trip home later that evening! The finger seen pointing in the bottom right hand corner of the photo belonged to a notorious member of “the Ghetto”--a Golden Bear Hockey subculture that occupied a dark corner of the dressing room at Clare Drake Arena.)



Koe World Champs Posing with Medals High Resolution.jpg


Team Koe/Alberta/Canada. 2010 World Curling Champions

The best thing about working with athletes is that they start as “your clients”, then they become “your team” and if you are lucky they sometimes become “your friends.” My 4-year journey with my friends (Kevin Koe, Blake MacDonald, Carter Rycroft, and Nolan Thiessen) ended with the team winning the 2010 Brier in Halifax followed by victory at the 2010 World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy).


Another version of Team Koe (2016 Canadian “Brier” Champions)

(Left to right: Me, Scott Pfeifer, Ben Hebert, Brent Laing, Marc Kennedy, & Kevin Koe)

[Picture source: http://www.rds.ca/curling/kevin-koe-a-reconquis-son-trone-1.3127440]


5. Considering a Career in Applied Sport Psychology?


I am frequently asked questions by interested students about pursuing a career in the area of applied sport psychology, and about possible job opportunities in the field. The following is a brief synopsis of my typical response. Please note, however, that these are my opinions and views and they may not necessarily be correct or constitute the answer you would get from another practitioner in my field.


I usually start by delivering the bad news. I tell people that there are relatively few full-time opportunities to work in the area of applied sport psychology in Canada. Many students have a goal of ultimately working with an Olympic team or a with a professional sports franchise. While these jobs do exist, there are very few “full time” jobs in these areas, and breaking into the elite levels of competitive sport not only requires a high degree of competence but typically takes a very long time (and a little bit of luck). As in many walks of life, being in the right place at the right time often dictates the opportunities that come available to people. In my experience, the vast majority of sport psychology professionals who work with professional teams or Olympic teams hold appointments at universities or colleges. I know of very few people in Canada who make a full-time living practicing sport psychology with elite athletes (although a few people do work with the Canadian Sport Institutes). In my own case (and as is the case with many of my colleagues), I hold an academic appointment at a university where my primary job responsibilities lie in the areas of teaching and research. (And in order to work at the university, I had to obtain a PhD.)


Education forms a huge part of the sport psychologist’s training. My own personal training (BSc, MA, and PhD) is primarily in the area of physical education and sport science (with a focus on sport psychology). In other words, all of my degrees have come from Physical Education or Sport Science faculties. As such, I am not legally (or ethically) permitted to call myself a “psychologist” nor can I deal with any clinical or counseling issues that may be presented by my clients (e.g., suicidal tendencies, drug/alcohol abuse, eating disorders, marital counseling, etc). Although I have rarely encountered any of these issues in my work with high-performance athletes over the past two decades, in the event that these issues did come up, I would find a qualified psychologist who can assist the athlete. I always make it clear to my clients that I work in the area of “performance psychology” or “mental skills training” and deal solely with performance- enhancement issues relating to (but not limited to) motivation, team building, self-awareness, pre-competitive routines, etc.


To become a registered psychologist who can deal with clinical/counseling issues, an individual must undergo graduate training in the area of clinical/counseling psychology. The College of Alberta Psychologists (https://www.cap.ab.ca/) governs the registration/licensing of psychologists in the province of Alberta. Individuals who are interested in becoming a registered psychologist should contact the College. Any individual wishing to become a registered psychologist in Alberta must have a graduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution (as defined by the College) and the degree must be in the designated area of “psychology.”


In North America, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) (http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/) has a certification program in the area of sport psychology. This program is designed to give the general public some degree of assurance that practitioners in the field who claim to be working in the area of sport psychology do indeed have an adequate level of training. However, it is important to recognize that AASP certified consultants are not necessarily “registered/licensed psychologists” and as in all walks of life, certification does not guarantee that the consultant is competent! Nevertheless, AASP is internationally recognized as the leading professional organization in the field, and I would strongly recommend that people who are interested in pursuing a career in applied sport psychology visit the AASP website for specific details on certification criteria. Interested readers can also visit the website of the American Psychological Association: Division 47, where information about “becoming a sport psychologist” is also provided: http://www.apa.org/about/division/div47.aspx


Clearly then, individuals have a number of choices to make in terms of the training/education they choose to pursue. Staying strictly in the area of sport science, physical education, and/or kinesiology increases your understanding of the scientific basis of sport performance (and sport psychology). However, this restricts an individual’s opportunities to work with clients who present with clinical/counseling issues. Alternatively, individuals could choose to take their training from psychology or education psychology departments. This would provide the individual with training that would lead to opportunities to work in clinical settings, but may restrict opportunities to gain an understanding of the issues that relate to sport performance. Ultimately, it may be wise for an individual to pursue undergraduate and graduate training in both fields (i.e., physical education/sport science and psychology) but there is generally no pre-set path that one should or must follow. As such, people interested in pursuing a career in the area of sport psychology should consider all of their options and decide which combination of educational training best meets their long-term career aspirations. I would strongly recommend that people who are looking into graduate training in sport psychology purchase the Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology (12th ed.) that is published by AASP (https://appliedsportpsych.org/publications/graduate-program-directory/). This book provides an extensive overview of graduate programs in sport psychology at universities and colleges throughout the world.


I always tell people who are interested in working in the field of sport psychology that they should be passionate about sport. While I do not think an individual needs to have been an elite or professional level competitor to work effectively in this area, I honestly believe that it really does help to have an implicit knowledge of the competitive sport environment. In other words, I believe that individuals who have had experiences as athletes (or coaches) are at a huge advantage in the field of sport/performance psychology. If you have competed (or coached) in sport you likely have a much better appreciation of the pressures and challenges that athletes face on a daily basis. Knowing what it feels like to perform in front of an audience, to let your team-mates down if you make a mistake, to be criticized by a team-mate or coach, to deal with the media, to make sacrifices, to stay committed to training for prolonged periods of time, to deal with injuries, to feel the frustration of defeat/failure and to feel the joy of success all help the would-be sport psychologist to better understand her/his client. Thus, experiences as an athlete or coach with higher levels of competition generally make it easier to understand the unique demands that higher competitive levels present.


Although I wholeheartedly endorse the need to pursue educational training in the field of sport psychology (or psychology), I also believe that the “art” of sport psychology is not learned from a text book: it is learned from working with athletes and coaches in their competitive environments. As such, I think it is very important that people spend time getting experiences working with coaches or athletes at different competitive levels to better understand the demands of the competitive sport environment. In my case, as I neared the completion of my PhD, I did many voluntary “educational sport psychology sessions” with young/developmental athletes, teams, or schools. As I slowly worked “up the competitive levels” I began to get a better appreciation for what worked and what did not work with athletes. Even when I had completed my PhD and had been hired as a tenure track professor, I still continued to volunteer my services to varsity athletes/teams at the University of Alberta. It was not until I had approximately 6 years of voluntary service under my belt that I felt comfortable charging clients for my services. Having said this, I am now in the privileged position to say that I have been paid to work in the NHL and to work at Olympic Games, World Championships, and Pan Am Games with a number of different sports. However, it would have been very difficult for me to obtain these opportunities had I not had my university position (and salary) to support me as I gained these experiences. 


I hope the information contained in the aforementioned paragraphs helps provide some guidance for people who are contemplating a possible career in the area of applied sport psychology.



“The latest version of Team Koe

Team Koe after winning the 2019 Canadian Brier Championship in Brandon, MB.

(Kevin Koe, BJ Neufeld, Colton Flasch, Ben Hebert, Ted Appelman, Me)