Ego-Oriented Learners Show Advantage in Retention and Transfer of Balancing Skill

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 The University of São Paulo
  • 2 The University of Tennessee
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Task-oriented individuals believe capabilities can change and focus on learning, self-reference, mastery, personal improvement, and effort. Ego-oriented individuals believe capabilities are fixed and focus on performance, outcome, other-reference, and personal success. We examined the effects of task and ego orientations on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of a balance task. Eighteen acquisition trials with knowledge of results on a 40-s balance task (parallel stance) were performed. Retention and transfer (staggered stance) were administered 24 h later, with three no–knowledge of results trials each. Analyses showed that the high-ego-oriented individuals showed better balance on transfer than the low-ego-oriented ones, suggesting that those who score high in ego might be predisposed to use adaptive strategies to facilitate performance when feedback is withdrawn on learning tests. To test this hypothesis, the second experiment investigated the relationship between knowledge of results and goal orientations. Task, design, and procedure were identical to the first experiment. The analyses indicated that ego-oriented individuals were capable of sustaining balance for a much greater length of time on retention and transfer than task-oriented ones, mainly when knowledge of results was present on acquisition trials. This finding reinforces the advantage of ego over task goal orientation when learning a new motor task.

Meira is with the School of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, The University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Fairbrother is with the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

Address author correspondence to Cassio M. Meira at cmj@usp.br.
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