Publication Date

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Theodore Butryn


athletic performance, female Olympians, IPA, mental performance, social media

Subject Areas



Social media is prevalent in athletes’ lives and sport today. Sport psychology scholars have conducted numerous research studies on the effects of social media in athletes, yet not specifically athletes who have participated in the Olympic Games. Less is known about how Olympic athletes perceive, interpret, and manage both positive and negative social media effects. It is essential that those involved in athletics are aware of how the highest-level athletes experience various forms of public feedback on social media, and how they can manage the effects of this feedback. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine the experiences of female Olympic athletes’ social media use and interactions. Through an interpretative qualitative research process (IPA), this study examined the lived experiences of nine female athletes who participated in one or more of the 2012-2020 Olympic Games. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews. It was then analyzed to explore subjective negative experiences of social media and the perceived influence on performance. Three major and two minor themes showed participants faced negative psychological effects from social media, yet the majority described the ability to still perform successfully. This study has important implications for professionals working with elite athletes on their mental health, and the athlete future training of sport psychology professionals.

Available for download on Monday, August 26, 2024