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Attributions and Performance: An Empirical Test of Kukla's Theory

David Yukelson, Robert S. Weinberg, and Stephen West Allen Jackson

The purpose of this investigation was to test Kukla's attributional theory of performance and to address the mediating link between causal attribution and subsequent action in a competitive motor task. Two experiments were conducted: the first was designed to determine the effect of perceived task difficulty and attributional instructions on the ball-tossing performance of high achievers while competing against a standard of excellence. Results indicated that high achievers performed with greater intensity when receiving an effort rather than ability-oriented instructional set and when they perceive themselves to be behind a normative score of their classmates. To refine and clarify results found in Experiment 1, low as well as high achievers were added to the second study and were placed in face-to-face competition instead of a competition against a standard of excellence. Results from the performance data in Experiment 2 supported Kukla's theory in that high achievers performed best when they perceived themselves to be behind an opponent's score midway through the experiment, whereas low achievers performed best when they perceived themselves to be ahead. Results from the cognitive assessment procedure, however, failed to support the performance findings. Implications for the viability of Kukla's attributional theory of performance and problems related to the assessment of cognitive states are discussed.

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Effects of Visuo-motor Behavior Rehearsal, Relaxation, and Imagery on Karate Performance

Robert S. Weinberg, Thomas G. Seabourne, and Allen Jackson

The present investigation attempted to determine whether imagery combined with relaxation (VMBR) is more effective in facilitating karate performance than either imagery or relaxation alone. Each subject (N = 32) was randomly assigned to either a VMBR, relaxation, imagery, or attention-placebo control condition in a one-way design. During the first day of the karate class (which met twice a week), each group was individually provided with an explanation of how to practice their assigned strategy at home. Trait anxiety tests were administered at the beginning and the end of the 6-week test period. In addition, performance tests were administered at the end of the testing period along with precompetitive state anxiety. Trait anxiety results indicated that all subjects displayed a reduction in trait anxiety over the course of the testing period. State anxiety results indicated that the VMBR and relaxation groups exhibited lower levels of state anxiety than the imagery and attention-control groups. Performance was broken down into three subareas which consisted of skill, combinations, and sparring (actual competition). Results only showed an effect for sparring, with VMBR group exhibiting better performance than all other groups.

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The Effect of Preexisting and Manipulated Self-efficacy on a Competitive Muscular Endurance Task

Robert S. Weinberg, Daniel Gould, David Yukelson, and Allen Jackson

This investigation was designed to determine the effects of preexisting and manipulated self-efficacy on competitive motor performance. Male (n = 46) and female (n = 46) subjects were classified as being high or low in preexisting self-efficacy before the experiment began and were randomly assigned to either a high- or low-manipulated self-efficacy condition in a 2 × 2 × 2 (sex by self-efficacy by manipulated efficacy) design. Efficacy was manipulated by having subjects compete against a confederate on a muscular leg-endurance task where the confederate was said to be either a varsity track athlete (low-manipulated self-efficacy) or an individual who had had knee surgery (high-manipulated self-efficacy). To create aversive consequences, the experiment was rigged so that subjects lost in competition on the two muscular leg endurance task trials they performed. Both preexisting and manipulated self-efficacy were found to significantly influence performance, with preexisting self-efficacy influencing performance only on Trial 1 and manipulated self-efficacy only on Trial 2. The findings support Bandura's (1977) theory of self-efficacy and are discussed in terms of the permeability of initial efficacy states.

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The Effects of Mastery, Competitive, and Cooperative Goals on the Performance of Simple and Complex Basketball Skills

John M. Giannini, Robert S. Weinberg, and Allen J. Jackson

This study investigated the effects of different goal and feedback conditions on performance of a basketball shooting task and a more complex one-on-one offensive basketball task. Subjects (N= 1(D) were matched, based on pretest performance, into one of five conditions: competitive goal, cooperative goal, mastery goal, "do your best" with feedback, and "do your best" without feedback. Subjects also responded to questionnaires to allow an assessment of the strength of mastery, competitive, and social goal orientations, which reflected personal achievement goals held before goal-setting instructions were offered. Results indicated that the competitive goal group performed significantly better than the do-your-best-without-feedback group in one-on-one posttest trials. No other between-group performance differences were significant. Subjects' goal orientations were not related to performance in the competitive and cooperative goal conditions, but significant relationships were found for mastery goal group subjects. The results are discussed in terms of Locke's theory of goal setting as well as achievement motivation research on goal orientations, and future directions for research are offered.

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The Mediating Role of Self-Compassion on the Relationship Between Goal Orientation and Sport-Confidence

Arash Assar, Robert Weinberg, Rose Marie Ward, and Robin S. Vealey

The purpose of the present investigation was to explore the mediating role of self-compassion on the relation between goal orientation and sport-confidence, as well as exploring whether these factors differed between male and female student-athletes. To that end, a total of 418 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes (M = 20.19, SD = 1.30) completed the Self-Compassion Scale (athlete version), the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire, and the Trait Sport-Confidence Inventory. Structural equation models suggest that task orientation has both a direct effect on sport-confidence and an indirect one through self-compassion. Furthermore, while there was no direct effect between ego orientation and sport-confidence, the results indicated an indirect effect through self-compassion. Moreover, a multigroup analysis indicated that the paths in the mediation model were moderated by gender. Based on these findings, it is recommended that coaches, sport psychologists, and other practitioners consider self-compassion training to enhance confidence among both ego-oriented and female athletes.

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Effect of Individualized, Nonindividualized, and Package Intervention Strategies on Karate Performance

Thomas G. Seabourne, Robert S. Weinberg, Allen Jackson, and Richard M. Suinn

The purpose of the present investigation was to determine the effectiveness of different types of mental intervention procedures on karate performance. Subjects were 43 male volunteer students enrolled in self-defense classes at a university. They were randomly assigned to one of five conditions: individualized, nonindividualized, package, placebo control, and control. Karate performance evaluations (i.e., skill, combinations, sparring) were administered during the 5th (baseline), 10th, and 15th weeks of classes. All experimental groups received handouts, mini-strategies, manipulation checks, and interviews to aid them in their practice and training of their mental strategies. Thus, over the 10-week period, subjects spent a minimum of 17 hours practicing their cognitive strategies. Data were analyzed by a series of 5 x 2 (treatment X trials) multivariate analyses of variance. Results indicated that the individualized and package groups performed significantly better than all other groups on the karate performance measures of combinations and sparring. No other between-group differences were found. These results are supported by previous research (e.g., Kirschenbaum & Bale, 1980; Silva, 1982) which demonstrates the effectiveness of individualized and packaged intervention strategies in enhancing performance. Additional well controlled intervention studies are imperative before definitive statements can be put forth.

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Adolescent Physical Activity Participation and Motivational Determinants Across Gender, Age, and Race

Joanne Butt, Robert S. Weinberg, Jeff D. Breckon, and Randal P. Claytor


Physical activity (PA) declines as adolescents get older, and the motivational determinants of PA warrant further investigation. The purposes of this study were to investigate the amount of physical and sedentary activity that adolescents participated in across age, gender, and race, and to investigate adolescents’ attraction to PA and their perceived barriers and benefits across age, gender, and race.


High school students (N = 1163) aged between 13 and 16 years completed questionnaires on minutes and intensity of physical and sedentary activity, interests in physical activity, and perceived benefits and barriers to participating in PA.


A series of multivariate analyses of variance were conducted and followed up with discriminant function analysis. PA participation decreased in older females. In addition, fun of physical exertion was a primary attraction to PA for males more than females. Body image as an expected outcome of participating in PA contributed most to gender differences.


There is a need to determine why PA drops-off as females get older. Findings underscore the importance of structuring activities differently to sustain interest in male and female adolescents, and highlights motives of having a healthy body image, and making PA fun to enhance participation.