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Motivation in Sport: The Mediating Role of Perceived Ability

Glyn C. Roberts and Joan L. Duda

The major purpose of this study was to determine the importance of being able to assign ability to self in interpreting outcomes as success or failure in a sport context. The relationship between self-assessments of demonstrated ability and subjective perception of success and failure was investigated for both males and females. This study also entailed a preliminary examination of the variables that lead to perceptions of ability in sport among males and females. A field study was conducted with men and women racquetball players. Prior to a two-person racquetball game, subjects were given a questionnaire assessing their own and opponent's perceived ability, self-confidence, reasons for enrolling in racquetball class, and the importance placed on winning. Immediately after the contest a second questionnaire was administered which tapped perceived satisfaction in the game (subjective success and failure), perceptions of own and opponent's demonstrated ability, and the causal attributions of winners and losers. Regression analyses revealed that perception of demonstrated ability was significantly related to perceptions of success and failure for both men and women. Results indicated, however, that men and women used different information variables to determine whether ability had been displayed.

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Future Directions in Applied Sport Psychology Research

William B. Strean and Glyn C. Roberts

Many debates have raged about professional issues in sport psychology, but the research aspect of applied sport psychology has received relatively little attention. In an effort to stimulate thinking about research, this paper discusses the aims of science, the underlying philosophy of science issues that impinge on sport psychology research, and current methodological controversies. The paper concludes with suggestions for future directions for research in applied sport psychology, and implications for consulting are addressed.

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Positive Performance States of Athletes: Toward a Conceptual Understanding of Peak Performance

Susan A. Jackson and Glyn C. Roberts

This study investigated relationships among peak performance, flow, goal orientation, and perceived ability in an attempt to ascertain possible conceptual bases to peak performance. Collegiate athletes (N=200) answered a questionnaire that assessed mastery and competitive goal orientations, perceived ability, flow, and experience in best and worst competitive performances. It was hypothesized that the psychological process of flow underlies peak performance and is associated with a mastery oriented focus and high perceived ability. These predicted relationships were supported by both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Analysis of athletes’ best performances indicated a total focus on performance, and other characteristics of flow were key to the perception of a superior state of functioning. In contrast, overconcern with the outcome, reflecting a competitive orientation, was often associated with athletes’ worst performances. These associations suggest that investigating positive performance states from a motivational standpoint may lead to greater understanding of the underlying conceptual bases of peak athletic performance.

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Contextual Influences on Moral Functioning of College Basketball Players

Maria Kavussanu, Glyn C. Roberts, and Nikos Ntoumanis

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of moral atmosphere and perceived performance motivational climate on moral functioning of college basketball players and to determine the relationship between moral atmosphere and perceived performance motivational climate. A total of 199 athletes participated in the study. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the interrelationships among the variables of interest. Athletes’ perceptions of the moral atmosphere of their team had a significant effect on moral functioning, while the effect of performance motivational climate on moral functioning was not significant. Perceptions of a performance motivational climate were positively associated with the moral atmosphere of the team. Implications of the findings for eliminating unsportspersonlike conduct in the sport realm are discussed.

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Orthogonality of Achievement Goals and Its Relationship to Beliefs about Success and Satisfaction in Sport

Glyn C. Roberts, Darren C. Treasure, and Maria Kavussanu

The present study examined the relationship between dispositional achievement goal orientations and satisfaction and beliefs about success in sport. Participants were 333 students who were administered the Perception of Success Questionnaire (POSQ) (Roberts & Balague, 1989,1991; Roberts, Treasure, & Balague, 1995), Beliefs about Success, and Satisfaction/Interest/Boredom Questionnaires (Duda & Nicholls, 1992). Consistent with theory (Nicholls, 1984, 1989) and previous research, task and ego goal orientations were found to be orthogonal. Following an extreme group split of the task and ego subscales of the POSQ, results of a 2 X 2 (High/Low Ego; High/Low Task) multivariate analyses of variance revealed a significant interaction effect between task and ego orientation. Specifically, participants high in ego and low in task orientation believed effort to be less a cause of success while high tasMow ego-oriented individuals were the least likely to attribute success to external factors. The findings are discussed in terms of their motivational implications for athletes.

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Influence of Variability in Motivation and Affect on Elite Athlete Burnout Susceptibility

Pierre-Nicolas Lemyre, Darren C. Treasure, and Glyn C. Roberts

Forty-four elite swimmers (F = 19, M = 25) participated in the present study designed to examine shifts along the self-determined motivation continuum, as well as swings in negative and positive affect, to predict susceptibility to athlete burnout. Each week the participants were asked to record positive and negative affect states. Swimmers’ affect swing was calculated using mean intraindividual standard deviation scores as an indicator of intraindividual variance. Every third week the athletes’ level of self-determined motivation to participate in swimming was compiled on a self-determination index. A motivational trend slope for the whole season was computed for each swimmer. Results indicated that shifts in the quality of motivation were reliable predictors of all burnout dimensions. In addition, results of the regression analyses showed that swimmers experiencing increased variability in negative affect were more at risk for burnout. These two psychological constructs reliably predicted burnout potential in elite swimmers.

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An Analysis of Motivation in Children's Sport: The Role of Perceived Competence in Participation

Glyn C. Roberts, Douglas A. Kleiber, and Joan L. Duda

This study investigated the relationship of sport participation to perceived competence. Perceived competence is considered to be an important determinant of achievement motivation and behavior. Male and female fourth and fifth graders (N = 143) were given Harter's (Note 1) Perceived Competence Scales and were interviewed to determine their involvement in organized sport activities. Further, the children were asked to give their perceptions of competence relative to teammates, general attributions about sport outcomes, and their persistence and expectancies of future success. The results revealed that participants in organized sports were higher in perceived competence, were more persistent, and had higher expectations of future success. The causal attributions of participant children were ability oriented and generally supported the perceived competence findings. The results are consistent with the statement that perceived competence in physical skills has an important influence on the participation and motivation of children in sport contexts.

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Motivational Factors and Coping Strategies of Norwegian Paralympic and Olympic Winter Sport Athletes

Anne Marte Pensgaard, Glyn C. Roberts, and Holger Ursin

This study aimed to compare individual and situational motivational factors and the use of coping strategies among elite athletes with and without physical disabilities. Participants were Norwegian athletes from the 1994 Winter Olympics (n = 69) and Paralympics (n = 30) at Lillehammer. Quantitative data came from questions concerning expectations and satisfactions, and three instruments (Perception of Success Questionnaire, Perceived Motivational Climate Questionnaire, and the COPE Inventory). Qualitative data came from interviews. MANOVA analyses revealed that Paralympic and Olympic athletes had similar motivational profiles, but the Paralympic athletes perceived a more mastery-oriented climate, F(1, 98) = 12.6, p < .001. Both groups used similar types of coping strategies, except that Olympic athletes employed more redefinition and growth strategies, F(1, 97) = 6.72, p < .01. Paralympic athletes were also significantly more satisfied with effort and results. Paralympic and Olympic athletes were significantly different on only 4 of 11 variables.

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Clarifying Misconceptions and Misrepresentations in Achievement Goal Research in Sport: A Response to Harwood, Hardy, and Swain

Darren C. Treasure, Joan L. Duda, Howard K. Hall, Glyn C. Roberts, Carol Ames, and Martin L. Maehr

In a recent article, Harwood, Hardy, and Swain (2000) presented what they termed a critical analysis of the conceptualization and measurement of achievement goals in sport. The purpose of the present article is to challenge their interpretation of achievement goal theory and to question many of their subsequent recommendations. Specifically, the present response will focus on Harwood et al.’s (a) interpretation of Nicholls’ personal theories of achievement; (b) their contention that task involvement cannot exist in competitive sport; (c) the proposed tripartite conceptualization of goal involvement states; (d) their understanding of the relationship between the way an individual conceptualizes ability and the foundation of dispositional goal orientations; and (e) their criticisms of the way dispositional goal orientations have been measured in sport. Theoretical frameworks are always a work in progress. To this end, we concur with the spirit of Harwood et al.’s article which implies that our conceptual models should be continuously questioned, tested, and extended. However, we believe their interpretation and recommendations do little to enhance our conceptual understanding of achievement goal theory in sport.