Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Wendell Liemohn

Committee Members

Leslee A. Fisher, Craig A. Wrisberg, Mark Hector


The purpose of this study was to explore and attempt to understand how Pygmalion works in the rehabilitation environment and how it may influence the rehabilitation adherence of injured athletes. A qualitative case study approach was used to explore athletic trainers’ and athletes’ experiences with expectancies and their subsequent influences at one NAIA College. Five athletic trainers and 10 injured athletes participated in this study. Each athletic trainer ranked his/her injured athletes from high to low ability for rehabilitation. A high and low ability injured athlete was interviewed for each athletic trainer. Results of this study revealed potential Pygmalion effects that may have influenced rehabilitation adherence. In these cases, high ability-ranked athletes seemed to perceive a warmer rehabilitation environment and the willingness of the athletic trainer to serve as part of their social support network resulting in better rehabilitation compliance and adherence as compared to low ability-ranked athletes. However, in some cases, Pygmalion effects appeared to be present but athletes did not seem to be influenced by theme, consistent with previous literature positing that athletes are not all Pygmalion-prone. Additionally, some athletic trainers appeared to have unrealistic expectations of their injured athletes, resulting in a misperception of the athletes’ abilities and laying the foundation for Pygmalion effects.

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