Peer motivational climate in youth sport: a qualitative inquiry

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives: Little is known about the influence and nature of the motivational climate initiated by peer groups on children’s sport behaviour and experiences. To address this research need, in-depth interviews were employed in order to identify the factors that underpin the motivational climate created by peers in youth sport. Methods: Individually and in small focus groups, 14 boys and 16 girls (NZ30), aged between 12 and 16 years old from both individual and team sports, were interviewed regarding peer-induced characteristics of their motivational climates. Results: Using content analyses, the following 11 dimensions of peer climate emerged: cooperation, effort, improvement, mistakes, intra-team competition, intra-team conflict, equal treatment, normative ability, autonomy support, evaluation of competence and relatedness support. Conclusions: Some of the resulting dimensions are similar to the factors included in existing instruments assessing adult (i.e. PE teacher or coach-created) motivational climates. However, some facets of the climate unique to peer groups were also identified in this study. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for future research on the peer motivational climate are provided.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-516
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005


  • psychological needs, peers, content analysis, motivational climate