Date of Graduation

Summer 2010


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Chantal Levesque


rock climbing, basic needs satisfaction, vitality, flow, psychological well-being, perceived exertion

Subject Categories



The psychological impact of rock climbing has received little attention from the field of psychology. Most rock climbers view their sport not only as fun, but also as life altering. It tests a person's strength, stamina, dexterity, and balance as well as his or her mental control. This empirical research aimed to shed light on what makes outdoor rock climbing such an engaging and life altering sport by examining the psychological constructs of basic needs satisfaction, vitality, flow and subjective well-being. Climbing indoors and outdoors are very different experiences. Indoor climbing is to train, practice, and learn. People climb outdoor for the enjoyment of being outside, the feel of the rock, and the ability to find their own unique way to climb a route. Because of these different experiences, it is expected that rock climbers will feel higher levels of vitality, basic needs satisfaction, and psychological well-being when climbing outside compared to inside. Twenty experienced rock climbers participated in the study and the constructs were assessed before and after climbing both indoor and outdoor. Results of repeated measures ANOVA showed significant changes in climber's basic need satisfaction, vitality, and subjective well-being after rock-climbing. However, no interaction was found between conditions. Also, a relationship was found between perceived exertion and flow state which differed when climbing indoor compared to outdoor.


© Laura D. Nichols

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