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Thelma Sternberg Horn

Researchers investigating expectancy effects in academic as well as motor skills contexts have consistently found differences in instructors' behavior towards high-and low-expectancy children. However, certain methodological problems which have recently been identified may limit the interpretation of such differential behaviors as evidence of instructor bias. The present study was conducted to examine expectancy effects in the athletic setting by directly testing three of these methodological issues. The instructional behaviors of five junior high softball coaches were recorded separately for practice and game situations using the Coaching Behavior Assessment System. Multivariate statistical analyses of coaching behaviors revealed that low-expectancy athletes received more praise for success and more general and corrective instruction in game situations than did high-expectancy athletes. Although these results demonstrate the existence of differential patterns of coaching behavior, the direction of the obtained differences does not support the predictions implicit in the self-fulfilling prophecy model. In addition, results indicated that the methodological issues under consideration do influence the accuracy with which coaching behavior is assessed and interpreted.

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Thelma Sternberg Horn and Cynthia A. Hasbrook

Theory and research from the developmental psychology literature Indicate there is a developmental progression in the particular criteria or informational sources children use to evaluate their performance competencies. The present study was designed to test the possibility that certain psychological characteristics (i.e., perceived competence and perceived performance control) may also affect children's preference for the various sources of competence information that are available in the sport environment. Three psychological questionnaires were administered to 229 young soccer athletes to assess the variables of Interest. Multivariate regression and canonical correlation analyses revealed support for the predicted relationships. Children with external perceptions of performance control exhibited a greater preference for external information, while children with high perceived competence and an internal perception of control exhibited greater reliance on self-determined standards of performance and comparison of own performance with that of relevant peers. These results suggest that children differ from each other not only in the magnitude of their perceptions of competence but also in the criteria they use to evaluate that competence.