Self serving attributions among children in a competitive sport setting: Some theoretical and methodological considerations

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Examined distinctions between open-ended and forced choice causal attributions of 48 9–12 yr old boys in a competitive sport setting. Ss participated in 1-on-1 basketball games and were interviewed after the games. A significant number of Ss experienced subjective success regardless of whether they won or lost, which suggests that an objective outcome (win vs loss) may not be the best way of defining success and failure in sport settings. When given the opportunity to respond freely, 75.7% of Ss' attributions were categorized as ability, effort, opponent difficulty, and luck. Finally, the attributional patterns for winners and losers differed significantly as a function of the type of attribution assessment utilized. It is concluded that there may be a relationship among perceived competence, subjective perceptions of success and failure, and causal attributions.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-97
JournalJournal of Sport Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1985