Not so rebel after all: Profiling personality traits in mountain running athletes

Translated title of the contribution: Not so rebel after all: Profiling personality traits in mountain running athletes

Andrea López, Raimundo Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the field of sport psychology, trait theories view personality characteristics as the main determinants of behavior. This study explored personality traits in athletes of a growing sport, trail or mountain ultrarunning, a group for which previous studies have yielded inconclusive results regarding the dominant traits and which traits are associated with sporting success. The NEO-FFI questionnaire by Costa and McCrae (1992) was applied online to a sample of 86 trail runners (60 men and 26 women), who participated in a competition in Chile. It sought to determine what the personality profile of these athletes was like; to identify if there were significant differences between this population and the normal population; and if there were differences among them according to gender, the distance in which they competed, the results in the competition, and the motivations they stated for running. For each comparison, a Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test was performed to measure its differences and respective statistical significance. Results showed that the personality profile of the mountain runners matched that of successful athletes in terms of high Conscientiousness and low Neuroticism, however, Openness to Experience scores showed no significant differences with the normal population. Neither did significant differences appear in any of the traits between ultradistance and shorter distance runners, nor according to their motivations for running, nor between male and female runners (except in the Agreeableness dimension). Finally, a clustering of the runners was outlined according to their personality profiles and performance, to see if they fit existing classifications that distinguish between recreational and results-oriented athletes, observing that it was possible to establish distinct profiles among runners. These results are of relevance to sports practitioners, who can design tailored interventions according to athletes´ personality profiles and prevent negative consequences when these traits become associated with unhealthy behaviors. The modest gender differences found, allow questioning gender stereotypes within the sport and fostering a more equitable approach to athlete training. This knowledge can contribute to further growing the sport of trail and ultrarunning in Chile and Latin America.

Translated title of the contributionNot so rebel after all: Profiling personality traits in mountain running athletes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-544
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Big Five
  • endurance sports
  • personality
  • trail runners
  • ultrarunners


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