Exploring the Relationship Between Goal Achievement Orientation and Mindfulness in Collegiate Athletics

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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Nicholls’ achievement goal theory suggests that a task-oriented individual sets goals based on a desire to master particular skills or tasks (Nicholls, 1984, 1989), thus promoting intrinsic motivation (Duda, Chi, Newton, & Walling, 1995). An ego-oriented individual evaluates one’s own performance against the performance of others with comparable skill sets, basing success on outperforming the opponent (Nicholls, 1984, 1989), resulting in low intrinsic motivation. Cognitive evaluation theory, embraced within self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991), suggests that an event that satisfies an inherent need for competence and autonomy leads to increased intrinsic motivation (Standage, Duda, & Pensgaard, 2005). Similarly, Brown and Ryan (2003) found that trait-mindfulness predicted more autonomous activity in day-to-day life and lower intensity and frequency of negative affect. It was therefore hypothesized that in a population of collegiate athletes, a relationship between mindfulness and goal orientation would exist; athletes higher in task-orientation would be more mindful than athletes higher in ego-orientation. Results indicate that a relationship does in fact exist between the Acting with Awareness subscale of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004) and task-orientation, in that as level of awareness increases, the level of task-orientation also increases. Level of awareness also predicted level of task orientation in athletes. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

The author is with Kean University, Department of Doctoral Studies, in Hillside, NJ.

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