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Andrew J. Elliot, Francois Cury, James W. Fryer and Pascal Huguet

The present experiment was designed to examine the mediational role of self-handicapping in the relationship between achievement goals and performance on a sport-based activity (i.e., a basketball dribbling task). The achievement goals of the trichotomous achievement goal framework were manipulated, behavioral and self-reported self-handicapping opportunities were provided, and performance attainment was assessed. Performance-avoidance goals led to worse performance and evoked higher levels of behavioral and self-reported self-handicapping than performance-approach and mastery goals. Both forms of self-handicapping were found to have independent mediational effects on decreased performance. Implications for the adoption of achievement goals and the use of self-handicapping strategies are discussed.

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Zan Gao, Leslie William Podlog and Louis Harrison

The purpose of this study was to examine relationships among college students’ 2 × 2 goal orientations (mastery-approach [MAp], mastery-avoidance [MAv], performance-approach [PAp], performance-avoidance [PAv]), situational motivation (intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, external regulation and amotivation) and effort/persistence in physical activity classes. Participants (140 female, 109 male) completed a battery of questionnaires assessing the outcome variables at the last week of instruction. Regression analyses revealed that MAp and PAp emerged as positive predictors for intrinsic motivation whereas MAp was the only positive predictor for identified regulation. MAp was negatively related to amotivation (AM), while PAp and PAv were positively related to AM. In addition, MAp, PAp, intrinsic motivation, and identified regulation were significant positive predictors of effort/persistence.

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Joachim Stoeber, Mark A. Uphill and Sarah Hotham

The question of how perfectionism affects performance is highly debated. Because empirical studies examining perfectionism and competitive sport performance are missing, the present research investigated how perfectionism affected race performance and what role athletes’ goals played in this relationship in two prospective studies with competitive triathletes (Study 1: N = 112; Study 2: N = 321). Regression analyses showed that perfectionistic personal standards, high performance-approach goals, low performance-avoidance goals, and high personal goals predicted race performance beyond athletes’ performance level. Moreover, the contrast between performance-avoidance and performance-approach goals mediated the relationship between perfectionistic personal standards and performance, whereas personal goal setting mediated the relationship between performance-approach goals and performance. The findings indicate that perfectionistic personal standards do not undermine competitive performance, but are associated with goals that help athletes achieve their best possible performance.

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Bulent Agbuga, Ping Xiang and Ron McBride

This study used a trichotomous achievement goal model to explore and describe what actually happened in terms of students’ achievement goals and disruptive behaviors in an after-school physical activity program. Participants included 158 students in grades 3–6. They completed questionnaires assessing their achievement goals and disruptive behaviors. Nine of the participants were also selected and observed for disruptive behaviors. Students reported higher scores on the mastery goal than they did on the performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. The mastery goal was negatively related to students’ self-reported low engagement, whereas the performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals were positively related to students’ self-reported disruptive behaviors. Overall, findings of the study provide empirical support for the trichotomous achievement goal model as a viable theoretical framework in the study of students’ disruptive behaviors in after-school physical activity settings.

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John C. K. Wang, Woon Chia Liu, Nikos L. D. Chatzisarantis and Coral B. S. Lim

The purpose of the current study was to examine the influence of perceived motivational climate on achievement goals in physical education using a structural equation mixture modeling (SEMM) analysis. Within one analysis, we identified groups of students with homogenous profiles in perceptions of motivational climate and examined the relationships between motivational climate, 2 × 2 achievement goals, and affect, concurrently. The findings of the current study showed that there were at least two distinct groups of students with differing perceptions of motivational climate: one group of students had much higher perceptions in both climates compared with the other group. Regardless of their grouping, the relationships between motivational climate, achievement goals, and enjoyment seemed to be invariant. Mastery climate predicted the adoption of mastery-approach and mastery-avoidance goals; performance climate was related to performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Mastery-approach goal had a strong positive effect while performance-avoidance had a small negative effect on enjoyment. Overall, it was concluded that only perception of a mastery motivational climate in physical education may foster intrinsic interest in physical education through adoption of mastery-approach goals.

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Christophe Gernigon, Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville, Didier Delignières and Grégory Ninot

Based on the dynamical systems perspective, the present study aimed to explore how states of involvement toward mastery, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals (Elliot & Church, 1997) flow, are interrelated, and are activated during a practice judo combat. Using a retrospective video recall method, two male national level judo competitors expressed on a computer their moment-to-moment level of involvement toward each goal. Self-confrontation interviews also based on the video were immediately conducted. Analyses of variance revealed differences in levels of each goal between periods of the combat. Windowed cross-correlation analyses showed that the patterns of relationships between the time series of the different goals considered two-by-two included either high positive, high negative, or zero correlations, depending on the moment. Qualitative data analyses supported these findings and suggested that goal involvement states emerged and fluctuated according to the ecological constraints of the situation, such as the initial contextual conditions and the course of action.

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Miranda P. Kaye, David E. Conroy and Angela M. Fifer

This study compared the fear of failure and perfectionism constructs by analyzing their latent structure as well as their motivational antecedents and consequences. College students (N = 372) enrolled in physical activity classes completed a battery of questionnaires assessing fear of failure, perfectionism, approach and avoidance motivational temperaments, and 2 × 2 achievement goals. Structural equation modeling revealed that responses were best summarized by two correlated factors representing perfectionistic strivings and concerns. Avoidance temperament was positively associated with both forms of incompetence avoidance; however, approach temperament was positively related only to perfectionist strivings. Perfectionistic concerns were positively related to the adoption of mastery-avoidance and performance-avoidance goals and negatively related to the adoption of mastery-approach goals. Perfectionistic strivings were positively associated with both approach goals. These results indicate that strivings to avoid incompetence can be distinguished with respect to their latent structure, temperamental antecedents, and motivational consequences.

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Aïna Chalabaev, Philippe Sarrazin, Jeff Stone and François Cury

This research investigated stereotype threat effects on women’s performance in sports and examined the mediation of this effect by achievement goals. The influence of two stereotypes—relative to the poor athletic ability and the poor technical soccer ability of women—were studied. Fifty-one female soccer players were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, introducing the task as diagnostic of athletic ability, technical soccer ability, or sports psychology. Next, they filled out a questionnaire measuring achievement goals and performed a soccer dribbling task. Results showed that compared with the control condition, females’ performance significantly decreased in the athletic ability condition and tended to decrease in the technical soccer ability condition. Moreover, participants endorsed a performance-avoidance (relative to performance-approach) goal when the stereotypes were activated. However, this goal endorsement was not related to performance. The implications of these results for understanding the role of stereotypes in gender inequalities in sports are discussed.

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Ben Jackson, Chris G. Harwood and J. Robert Grove

This study examined the extent to which 2 × 2 achievement goal constructs (Elliot, 1999) were associated with key relational perceptions (i.e., relationship commitment, relationship satisfaction) for members of athlete-athlete dyads. Both members from 82 regional-level partnerships (mean age = 22.72, SD = 3.83) were recruited from a variety of dyadic sports (e.g., tennis, badminton, rowing). Actor-partner interdependence model analyses revealed that greater dissimilarity between partners on mastery-approach and performance-approach goals was associated with lower commitment and satisfaction. Mastery goals displayed positive actor effects with respect to both relationship perceptions, whereas performance-avoidance goals were negatively related to commitment (i.e., actor and partner effects) and satisfaction (i.e., partner effect). These results indicate that achievement goal constructs may align with important interpersonal perceptions in athlete dyads.

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Victoria E. Warburton and Christopher M. Spray

The purpose of this study was to examine the temporal pattern of pupils’ approach-avoidance achievement goal adoption in physical education across Key Stage 3 of secondary school. Moreover, we determined the predictive utility of implicit theories of ability and perceived competence in explaining change in achievement goals, along with the moderating influence of pupils’ year group. On four occasions, over a 9-month period, 511 pupils in Years 7, 8, and 9 completed measures of perceived competence, incremental and entity beliefs, and approach-avoidance goals. Mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, and performance-avoidance goals exhibited a linear decline over time, whereas performance-approach goals showed no significant change. Theoretical propositions regarding the antecedents of approach-avoidance goal adoption were supported. Year group was found to moderate a number of these antecedent-goal relationships. Results suggest that Year 7 is a critical time for adolescents’ motivation in school physical education.