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.
Kevin S. Spink and Glyn C. Roberts
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.
James Luginbuhl and Arnold Bell
Causal attributions for poor performance were explored. Male athletes specializing in one of three track-and-field events—jumping, sprinting, or throwing—read a vignette about another jumper, sprinter, or thrower who performed below expectations, and a fourth vignette about a pole vaulter who performed above expectations. After each vignette, subjects were asked to list three factors that contributed to the performance of the target person. It was predicted that when the ego involvement of subjects was high (rating an athlete from their own specialty area), they would be more likely to make situational attributions than when their ego involvement was low (rating an athlete from another specialty area). This prediction was generally supported. Subjects also made more dispositional attributions for the successful performance than for the unsuccessful one. It is suggested that knowledge of the role played by ego involvement in attributions would help coaches maintain group morale.
Judy A. Blucker and Eve Hershberger
Causal attribution theory research has recently been applied to the female athlete. Early causal attribution research was influenced by Horner's (1968) original hypothesis about a fear of success personality trait that women generally possess. The purpose of this paper is to critique such research noting variables and issues which may have an impact on research and its interpretation when applied to the female athlete.
Christophe Gernigon and Jean-Baptiste Delloye
The influence of an unexpected outcome in a first sprint trial on athletes’ selfefficacy and performance, and the relationships between outcome, causal attribution, self-efficacy, and performance were examined. Sixty-two national level competition sprinters assessed self-efficacy, ran a first 60 m trial with manipulated time feedback (success vs. failure), expressed causal attributions, assessed self-efficacy again, and ran a second 60 m trial. Success and failure, respectively, increased and decreased self-efficacy. Stability of causes mediated the feedback, self-efficacy relation for males. Personal control predicted self-efficacy for females. Performance was not influenced by feedback but was weakly predicted by self-efficacy. This study sheds light on some of the cognitive and motivational processes that are involved in serial sports events.
Remco Polman, Naomi Rowcliffe, Erika Borkoles and Andrew Levy
This study investigated the nature of the relationship between precompetitive state anxiety (CSAI-2C), subjective (race position) and objective (satisfaction) performance outcomes, and self-rated causal attributions (CDS-IIC) for performance in competitive child swimmers. Race position, subjective satisfaction, self-confidence, and, to a lesser extent, cognitive state anxiety (but not somatic state anxiety) were associated with the attributions provided by the children for their swimming performance. The study partially supported the self-serving bias hypothesis; winners used the ego-enhancing attributional strategy, but the losers did not use an ego-protecting attributional style. Age but not gender appeared to influence the attributions provided in achievement situations.
Edward McAuley and Terry E. Duncan
Research suggests that attributional search is a consequence of disconfirming outcomes and that causal dimensions influence affective reactions to achievement outcomes. The present study manipulated future expectancies for performance and actual outcome in a competitive motor task. Following competitive outcome, causal attributions for and affective reactions to the outcome were assessed. Discriminant analysis indicated that winners experienced significantly more positive affect than did losers, who reported more intense negative affects. Regression analyses examined the relationship between causal dimensions and affective reactions. The locus of causality and stability dimensions significantly influenced a number of negative affects in losers, whereas all three dimensions in combination significantly influenced confidence in winners. The findings are discussed in relation to previous attribution-affect research in achievement settings and the role of disconfirm-ing experiences in the attribution process.
Jeff M. Shaw, David A. Dzewaltowski and Mary McElroy
Self-efficacy and causal attributions were examined as mediators of perceived psychological momentum. Participants were randomly assigned to either a repeated success or a repeated failure group in which success or failure was manipulated by having participants compete against a highly skilled confederate. Each participant and confederate performed three sets of 10 basketball free throws. Free throw self-efficacy, perceived psychological momentum, and causal dimensions were assessed after each set. Results indicated that the success and failure manipulations were effective in that the responses changed differently over time for both groups. Experiencing competitive success increased perceptions of momentum; experiencing competitive failure decreased perceptions of momentum. In contrast, self-efficacy only changed in response to competitive success as the participants became more confident. Both groups attributed the competitive outcome to internal, personally controllable, and unstable causes.
Robert Goyette, Robert Doré and Éric Dion
The sequential analysis of self-observations was used to study the reactions of Physical Education student teachers (N = 154) toward elementary school pupils’ misbehaviors. Reactions were categorized as direct or indirect indicating whether or not they represent a direct appeal to the student teacher’s authority status. Causal attributions of misbehaviors made by student teachers as well as their level of intensity were noted. In general, student teachers resorted to direct reactions and attributed the cause of the misbehavior to personal characteristics of the pupil. Their reactions and attributions differed, however, as a function of the level of the misbehavior’s intensity. In response to misbehaviors of high intensity, student teachers were more likely to resort to a combination of direct and indirect reactions and even more to systematically attribute the cause of these misbehaviors to the pupil. This pattern of results suggests that direct and indirect reactions have complementary functions in the management of high intensity misbehaviors.
Maureen R. Weiss, Vicki Ebbeck, Edward McAuley and Diane M. Wiese
This study explored the relationship between children's self-esteem and attributions for performance in both physical and social achievement domains. Children's physical and social self-esteem as well as perceptions of and attributions for performance and interpersonal success in a summer sports program were assessed. Multivariate analyses revealed a significant relationship between self-esteem and causal attributions for both physical and social domains. For physical competence, children high in self-esteem made attributions that were more internal, stable, and higher in personal control than did low self-esteem children. For social competence, children high in self-esteem made attributions that were more internal, stable, and higher in personal and lower in external control than did children low in self-esteem. These results provided support for a self-consistency approach to self-esteem.