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Goal perspective theory assumes that personal goals serve as organizing principles, influencing the meaning of activities and how individuals respond to achievement experiences (Nicholls, 1989). This study examined the link between an individual’s personal goals, wider views about how sport operates, and trait anxiety level prior to or during competition. This investigation also determined the relation of gender and sport group to goal orientations, beliefs about the causes of success in sport, and multidimensional trait anxiety among sport participants. The sample consisted of 251 male and female high school, intercollegiate, and college-age recreational sport participants who completed the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ; Duda & Nicholls, 1992), the 21-item Beliefs About the Causes of Sport Success Questionnaire (BACSSQ; Duda & Nicholls, 1992), and the 21-item Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS; Smith, Smoll, & Schultz, 1990). Canonical correlation analysis revealed that sport participants higher in ego orientation than task orientation were more likely to experience concentration disruption prior to or during performance and believed that taking an illegal advantage, such as blood doping, would lead to success in sport. In general, women were more task oriented than men, and reported worrying and being somatically anxious prior to or during competition. Overall, high school athletes were more ego oriented than intercollegiate athletes. College-age recreational males were more apt than intercollegiate males and high school females to equate effort as the way to success in sport. Further, high school male athletes were more apt than intercollegiate males and all the female athletic groups to believe using an illegal advantage, such as performance-enhancing drugs, would lead to success in sport.
Sally A. White is with the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance at Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-5120. At the time of this study Scott R. Zellner was a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824.