The Relationship of Task and Ego Orientation to Sportsmanship Attitudes and the Perceived Legitimacy of Injurious Acts

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Recent theories of achievement motivation (Dweck & Elliot, 1983; Elliot & Dweck, 1988; Nicholls, 1984a, 1984b, 1989) suggest two major goal perspectives operate in achievement contexts such as sport, namely, a task orientation and an ego orientation. These goal orientations reflect differences in how individuals construe their level of competence and, consequently, define success in specific settings. A task orientation implies task mastery and/or personal improvement reflect high competence and subjective success. One’s perception of a competence tends to be self-referenced if the individual is task oriented. Those who are ego oriented, in contrast, tend to construe their competence in reference to others. In the case of those individuals, demonstrating that they are better than those they compare themselves to means high ability and perceived goal accomplishment.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1991


  • goal orientation, sportsmanship, aggression, gender differences, moral, reasoning, sport, achievement, motivation