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Cognitive and Affective Concomitants of Task and Ego Goal Orientations during the Middle School Years

Darren C. Treasere and Glyn C. Roberts

Recent research with young adolescents (Duda, Fox, Biddle, & Armstrong, 1992) and with older adolescents (Duda, 1989) has reported a conceptually coherent relationship between individuals' achievement goal orientations and their beliefs about competitive sport. The purpose of the present study was to extend this line of research and examine the cognitive and affective concomitants of task and ego goal orientations (Nicholls, 1980, 1984, 1989) at three different ages during adolescence. Specifically, beliefs about the purposes of sport, causes of success, and satisfaction in sport were examined. A robust pattern of results emerged from canonical correlation procedures. For all three ages, a task orientation was related to prosocial and adaptive achievement beliefs about sport participation. In contrast, an ego orientation was related to negative social aspects and maladaptive achievement beliefs about sport involvement. The results suggest that a task orientation is likely to facilitate adaptive cognitive and affective patterns in competitive sport during adolescence.

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Causal Attributions in Sport: Some Theoretical Implications

Glyn C. Roberts and Debbie Pascuzzi

Previous sport attribution studies have generally asked subjects to make attributions for outcomes to the four elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty. These studies have assumed that these elements are the most important causes of outcomes. The present study tested this assumption. An open-ended questionnaire was given to 349 male and female subjects to determine the causal elements used in sport situations. Results showed that the four traditional elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty were used 45% of the time. However, the theory advocated by Weiner (1974) is based on the dimensions of locus of control and stability, and not on the elements per se. When the responses of subjects were content analyzed for dimensional properties, it was concluded that 100% of the responses could be placed within the four cells of the Weiner model. These results support the applicability of the Weiner achievement behavior model to sport environments, but only when careful analysis of causal attributions is made to determine their dimensional relevance. The evidence suggests that situationally relevant elements be included in addition to the traditional elements of ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty.

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Goal Orientations and Perceptions of the Sport Experience

Marc R. Lochbaum and Glyn C. Roberts

Nicholas (1984a, 1984b, 1989) conceptual framework was used to study the relationship between two implicit goal orientations (task and ego) and achievement behaviors. This study examined the relationship between the goal orientations and (a) beliefs concerning determinants of success, (b) competition and practice strategies, (c) practice benefits, and (d) enjoyment. Subjects were 182 male and 114 female high school athletes who competed in at least one sport during the 1989–1990 school year. Factor analyses were conducted to determine the composition of the relevant factors. Ten factors emerged. Canonical analysis was employed to determine the relationship between goal orientations and the 10 subscales. The results, consistent with the hypotheses, showed that athletes with a task orientation focused on adaptive achievement strategies whereas athletes with an ego orientation focused on potentially maladaptive achievement strategies. The implications of the results to sport participation are discussed.

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Motivation in Physical Activity Contexts: The Relationship of Perceived Motivational Climate to Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Efficacy

Maria Kavussanu and Glyn C. Roberts

This study examined the relationship between perceived motivational climate and intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy and determined the role of goal orientation and perceived motivational climate in predicting intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy. College students (N = 285) enrolled in beginning tennis classes completed a battery of questionnaires assessing perceived motivational climate, goal orientation, intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and perceived ability. Perceptions of mastery climate were positively associated with enjoyment, effort, perceived competence, and self-efficacy and were inversely related to tension. In males, dispositional goal orientation and perceived motivational climate emerged as equally important predictors of intrinsic motivation, while mastery motivational climate was the only significant predictor of self-efficacy. In females, performance motivational climate was the strongest predictor of intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy. Perceived normative ability accounted for a substantial amount of unique variance in intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy in both males and females. The motivational implications of the findings are discussed, and directions for future research are provided.

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Ambiguity of Outcome and Causal Attributions

Kevin S. Spink and Glyn C. Roberts

Previous research in the attributional analysis of individuals involved in athletic settings has typically used objective outcome as the primary determinant of causal attributions. Recent theorizing has suggested that objective outcome may not be the most adequate way of defining success and failure. Rather, success and failure may be more aptly described in terms of an individual's subjective perception of the implications of outcome for desirable personal qualities, especially ability. A field study was conducted to assess the effects of perceived outcome on the causal attributions of racquetball players. Prior to participating in a competitive two-person racquetball game, individuals indicated their expectancy of success against their opponent. Following the game, individuals rated their performance satisfaction, own competency, their opponent's competency, as well as rating the extent to which the outcome was due to internal or external factors. The results showed that the clearly perceived outcomes were attributed internally, while the ambiguous outcomes were attributed externally. The finding suggests that objective outcome may not be the best determinant of success and failure causal attributions.

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Moral Functioning in Sport: An Achievement Goal Perspective

Maria Kavussanu and Glyn C. Roberts

This study examined the role of achievement goals on indices of moral functioning (i.e., moral judgment, intention and behavior), unsportsmanlike attitudes, and judgments about the legitimacy of intentionally injurious acts in college basketball players. Male (n = 56) and female (n = 143) athletes completed questionnaires assessing the aforementioned variables. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant differences according to gender on the variables of interest. Specifically, male athletes reported higher ego orientation, lower task orientation, lower levels of moral functioning, and greater approval of unsportsmanlike behaviors, and they were more likely than females to judge injurious acts as legitimate. For the female sample, canonical correlation analysis indicated the presence of a significant but weak relationship between goal orientations and the set of moral variables. Higher ego orientation was related to lower levels of the judgment and intention indices of moral functioning and greater acceptance of intentionally injurious acts. Although this relationship was significant, the strength of the association between the two sets of variables accounted for only 9% of the variance in the set of moral variables.

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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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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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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.