Correlates of goal orientations among young athletes

Harry L. Hom, Joan Duda, Arden Miller

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Two major ways of judging one's competence and defining subjective success in achievement situations are task (focus is on improvement) and ego (focus is on beating others) involvement (16). Specific to the athletic context, this study examined the relationship of young athletes' proneness to task and ego involvement, or individual differences in the degree of task and ego orientation, respectively, to their (a) beliefs about the causes of success, (b) perceived ability, and (c) degree of satisfaction/enjoyment in the athletic domain. Subjects were 55 young athletes recruited from summer basketball camps. Congruent with previous research on older athletes and the classroom, a conceptually consistent relationship between goal orientations and views concerning the causes of success was revealed. Young athletes who were high in task and ego orientation tended to perceive themselves as more capable and report greater satisfaction/enjoyment. Implications concerning the motivational consequences of goal orientations for children and youth are discussed. Contemporary social cognitive theories of achievement motivation assume there are two major goal perspectives operating, namely task and ego orientation (1, 13, 15, 16). Individuals tend to define success and judge their competencies according to normatively referenced criteria when an ego orientation predomi-nates. Perceived goal accomplishment and competence, in this case, relate to the demonstration of superior ability. If task orientation prevails, perceived ability is self-referenced and subjective success is based on personal improvement and/ or task mastery. Research in support of the salience and motivational significance of these two goal perspectives stems from work in classroom settings as well as sport related investigations (5, 7, 8). According to Nicholls (16), an individual's motivation in performance settings depends upon hisher goal orientation. The two goal orientations of task and ego are presumed to be relatively independent of one another and not related in a bipolar fashion. High ego-orientedflow task-oriented individuals are expected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-176
JournalPaediatric Exercise Science
Publication statusPublished - 1993


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