Sport Motivation

Understanding and enhancing motivation is one of the most popular  areas  of  research  in  psychology,  as  well  as  sport and exercise psychology. In psychology and sport psychology, this research has primarily addressed the role of motivation   in   individual   lives,   especially   when   addressing motivation in achievement contexts. Motivation has usually  taken  the  form  of  managing  the  motivation  of  others, which is often the concern of the parent, the teacher, or the coach, or of managing one’s own motivation.

It  has  been  argued  (e.g.,  Roberts,  2001)  that  the  term motivation is overused and vague. There are at least 32 theories  of  motivation  that  have  their  own  definition  of  the construct (Ford, 1992), and there are almost as many definitions as there are theorists (Pinder, 1984). It is defined so broadly by some as to incorporate the whole field of psychology, and so narrowly by others as to be almost useless as an organizing construct. The solution for most has been to  abandon  the  term  and  use  descriptions  of  cognitive processes,   such   as   self-regulation   and   self-systems, processes such as personal goals and goal setting, or emotional  processes.  However,  most  contemporary  theorists agree on the important assumption that motivation is not an entity, but a process (e.g., Maehr & Braskamp, 1986). To understand motivation, we must make an attempt to understand  the  process  of  motivation  and  the  constructs  that drive the process.

Understanding Motivation And Achievement Behavior

Motivational processes can be defined by the psychological  constructs  that  energize,  direct,  and  regulate  achievement  behavior.  Motivation  theories  may  be  viewed  as being on a continuum ranging from deterministic to mechanistic  to  organismic  to  cognitive  (for  a  more  extensive treatment of motivation theories, see Ford, 1992; Weiner, 1972).   Deterministic   and   mechanistic   theories   view humans  as  passive  and  driven  by  psychological  needs  or drives. Organismic theories acknowledge innate needs but also recognize that a dialectic occurs between the organism   and   the   social   context.   Cognitive   theories   view humans as active and initiating action through subjective interpretation  of  the  achievement  context.  Contemporary theories tend to be organismic or social-cognitive and are based on more dynamic and sophisticated conceptions that assume the human is an active participant in decision making  and  in  planning  achievement  behavior  (e.g.,  Bandura, 1986; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Kuhl, 1986; Maehr & Nicholls, 1980; Nicholls, 1989). Although organismic  approaches  are  experiencing  a  resurgence  in the  literature  (Hagger  &  Chatzisarantis,  in  press),  the majority  of  motivation  research  in  physical  activity  contexts over the past 30 years has adopted a social-cognitive approach  (e.g.,  Duda,  1992,  2001;  Duda  &  Hall,  2001; Duda  &  Whitehead,  1998;  Roberts,  1984,  1992,  2001; Roberts, Treasure, & Kavussanu, 1997). Specifically, the motivation theory that has emerged as the most popular in sport  and  physical  activity  contexts  is  achievement  goal theory.   In   1998,   Duda   and   Whitehead   identified   135 research  studies  reported  in  the  1990s,  yet  just  2  years later  Brunel  (2000)  identified  160  studies.  As  we  go  to press, the number stands at over 200!

Accordingly, in this article we take a generally socialcognitive perspective, where achievement may be defined as the attainment of a personally or socially valued achievement  goal  that  has  meaning  for  the  person  in  a  physical activity  context  (e.g.,  losing  weight,  improving  a  skill, defeating   an   opponent).   Achievement   is   subjectively defined,  and  success  or  failure  in  obtaining  the  goal  is  a subjective  state  based  on  the  participant’s  assessment  of the  outcome  of  the  achievement  behavior  (e.g.,  Maehr  & Nicholls, 1980; Spink & Roberts, 1981).

Achievement Goal Theory In Sport And Physical Activity

sport-motivation-psychology-of-sportThe history of achievement goal theory (in general and in sport) has been reviewed in several other publications (e.g., Duda,  2005;  Duda  &  Hall,  2001;  Roberts,  2001;  Roberts et al., 1997), so the present chapter focuses on identifying key   constructs,   tenets,   and   limitations   of   the   theory, reviewing empirical support, and presenting recent proposals for expanding or restructuring the approach.

Achievement goal theory assumes that the individual is an intentional, goal-directed organism who operates in a rational   manner,   and   that   achievement   goals   govern achievement  beliefs  and  guide  subsequent  decision  making and behavior in achievement contexts. It is argued that to understand the motivation of individuals, the function and meaning of the achievement behavior to the individual must be taken into account and the goal of action understood.   Individuals   give   meaning   to   their   achievement behavior  through  the  goals  they  adopt.  It  is  these  goals that  reflect  the  purposes  of  achievement  striving.  Once adopted,  the  achievement  goal  determines  the  integrated pattern  of  beliefs  that  undergird  approach  and  avoidance strategies, the differing engagement levels, and the differing responses to achievement outcomes. By so recognizing the  importance  of  the  meaning  of  behavior,  it  becomes clear  that  there  may  be  multiple  goals  of  action,  not  one (Maehr  &  Braskamp,  1986).  Thus,  variation  of  achievement behavior may not be the manifestation of high or low motivation  per  se,  or  the  satisfaction  of  needs,  but  the expression  of  different  perceptions  of  appropriate  goals with their attendant constellation of cognitions. An individual’s investment of personal resources, such as effort, talent,   and   time,   in   an   activity   is   dependent   on   the achievement goal of the individual.

The  overall  goal  of  action  in  achievement  goal  theory, thereby   becoming   the   conceptual   energizing   force,   is assumed to be the desire to develop and demonstrate competence  and  to  avoid  demonstrating  incompetence.  The demonstration and development of competence is the energizing construct of the motivational processes of achievement  goal  theory.  But  competence  has  more  than  one meaning.  One  of  Nicholls’s  (1984)  conceptual  contributions was to argue that more than one conception of ability exists, and that achievement goals and behavior may differ depending on the conception of ability held by the person. Nicholls  argued  that  two  conceptions  of  ability  (at  least) are manifest in achievement contexts, namely, an undifferentiated concept of ability, where ability and effort are not differentiated by the individual, either because he or she is not  capable  of  differentiating,  as  is  the  case  with  young children, or because the individual chooses not to differentiate; and a differentiated concept of ability, where ability and effort are differentiated (Nicholls, 1984, 1989).

Nicholls (1976, 1978, 1980) argued that children originally  possess  an  undifferentiated  conception  of  ability  in which  they  are  not  able  to  differentiate  the  concepts  of luck,  task  difficulty,  and  effort  from  ability.  From  this undifferentiated   perspective,   children   associate   ability with  learning  through  effort,  so  that  the  more  effort  one puts  forth,  the  more  learning  (and  ability)  one  achieves. Following a series of experiments, Nicholls (1978; Nicholls & Miller, 1983, 1984a, 1984b) determined that by the age of 12 children are able to differentiate luck, task difficulty,  and  effort  from  ability,  enabling  a  differentiated  perspective.  When  utilizing  this  differentiated  perspective, children  begin  to  see  ability  as  capacity  and  that  the demonstration of competence involves outperforming others.  In  terms  of  effort,  high  ability  is  inferred  when  outperforming others while expending equal or less effort or performing equal to others while expending less effort.

Individuals will approach a task or activity with certain goals  of  action  reflecting  their  personal  perceptions  and beliefs  about  the  particular  achievement  activity  in  which they  are  engaged  and  the  form  of  ability  they  wish  to demonstrate  (Dennett,  1978;  Nicholls,  1984,  1989).  The conception of ability they employ and the ways they interpret their performance can be understood in terms of these perceptions and beliefs. These perceptions and beliefs form a  personal  theory  of  achievement  at  the  activity  (Nicholls, 1989; Roberts, 2001; Roberts et al., 1997), which reflects the individual’s perception of how things work in achievement  situations.  The  adopted  personal  theory  of  achievement affects one’s beliefs about how to achieve success and avoid failure at the activity. Therefore, people will differ in which of the conceptions of ability and criteria of success and  failure  they  use,  and  in  how  they  use  them,  based  on their personal theory of achievement.

The  two  conceptions  of  ability  thereby  become  the source of the criteria by which individuals assess success and failure. The goals of action are to meet the criteria by which  success  and  failure  are  assessed.  Nicholls  (1989) identifies achievement behavior utilizing the undifferentiated conception of ability as task involvement and achievement  behavior  utilizing  the  differentiated  conception  of ability  as  ego  involvement.  When  the  individual  is  task involved, the goal of action is to develop mastery, improvement,  or  learning,  and  the  demonstration  of  ability  is self-referenced.   Success   is   realized   when   mastery   or improvement has been attained. The goal of action  for an ego-involved  individual,  on  the  other  hand,  is  to  demonstrate  ability  relative  to  others  or  to  outperform  others, making ability other-referenced. Success is realized when the  performance  of  others  is  exceeded,  especially  when expending less effort than others (Nicholls, 1984, 1989).

In this article, when we refer to the motivated state of involvement of the individual, we use the terms ego involvement and task involvement to be consistent with Nicholls’s use  of  the  terms.  In  addition,  when  we  refer  to  individual differences (e.g., self-schemas, personal theories of achievement,  dispositions),  we  use  the  terms  task  orientation  and ego  orientation.  Other  motivation  theorists  (e.g.,  Dweck, 1986;   Dweck   &   Legget,   1988;   Elliot,   1997;   Maehr   & Braskamp, 1986) have used different terms to describe the same phenomena. When we refer to the situational determinants  of  motivation,  the  achievement  cues  inherent  in  the context, and the schemas emerging from achievement situations,  we  are  consistent  with  Ames  (1984a,  1992a,  1992b, 1992c) and refer to the task-involving aspect of the context as mastery criteria and the ego-involving aspect of the context  as  performance  criteria.  Finally,  when  we  refer  to  the competence  goals  defined  by  Elliot  (e.g.,  1997)  and  colleagues, we use the terms mastery and performance goals.

Whether one is engaged in a state of ego or task involvement  is  dependent  on  one’s  dispositional  orientation,  as well  as  the  perception  of  achievement  cues  in  the  context (Nicholls,  1989).  Let  us  consider  first  two  levels  of  individual  differences:  the  state  of  goal  involvement  and  the goal orientation.

States of Goal Involvement

Each of the theories of achievement goal motivation proffered  by  the  major  theorists  (e.g.,  Ames,  1984a,  1984b, 1992a,  1992b,  1992c;  Dweck,  1986;  Dweck  &  Leggett, 1988;  Elliot,  1997;  Maehr  &  Braskamp,  1986;  Maehr  & Nicholls,  1980;  Nicholls,  1984,  1989)  hold  that  important relationships  exist  between  the  states  of  goal  involvement and achievement striving. According to Nicholls, if the person  is  task-involved,  the  conception  of  ability  is  undifferentiated and perceived ability becomes less relevant, as the individual  is  trying  to  demonstrate  or  develop  mastery  at the task rather than demonstrate normative ability. As the individual  is  trying  to  demonstrate  mastery  or  improvement,  the  achievement  behaviors  will  be  adaptive  in  that the individual is more likely to persist in the face of failure,  to  exert  effort,  to  select  challenging  tasks,  and  to  be interested in the task (Dweck, 1986; Nicholls, 1984, 1989; Roberts,  1984,  1992;  Roberts  et  al.,  1997).  On  the  other hand,  if  the  individual  is  ego-involved,  the  conception  of ability is differentiated and perceived ability is relevant, as the individual is trying to demonstrate normative ability, or avoid  demonstrating  inability,  and  how  his  or  her  ability fares with comparative others becomes important.

If  the  individual  is  ego-involved  and  perceives  himself or  herself  as  high  in  ability,  that  person  is  likely  to approach  the  task  and  engage  in  adaptive  achievement behaviors. These are the people who seek competitive contests and want to demonstrate superiority. When perceived ability  is  high,  demonstrating  high  normative  ability  is likely; therefore the individual is motivated to persist and demonstrate  that  competence  to  pertinent  others.  If  one can demonstrate ability with little effort, however, this is evidence of even higher ability. Thus, the ego-involved person is inclined to use the least amount of effort to realize the  goal  of  action  (Nicholls,  1984,  1992;  Roberts,  1984; Roberts et al., 1997).

On the other hand, if the perception of ability is low, the individual will realize that ability is not likely to be demonstrated,  and  he  or  she  is  likely  to  manifest  maladaptive achievement   behaviors   (Nicholls,   1989).   Maladaptive behaviors are avoiding the task, avoiding challenge, reducing  persistence  in  the  face  of  difficulty,  exerting  little effort, and, in sport, dropping out if achievement of desired goals  appears  difficult.  These  are  the  people  who  avoid competitive contests, as their lack of high normative ability  is  likely  to  be  exposed.  Although  the  participant  may view  these  avoidance  behaviors  as  adaptive  because  they disguise a lack of ability, they are considered maladaptive in terms of achievement behavior.

It  has  been  argued  (e.g.,  Duda  &  Hall,  2001;  Roberts, 2001; Treasure et al., 2001) that the states of involvement are  mutually  exclusive  (i.e.,  one  is  either  ego or  task involved),  even  though  this  notion  has  been  questioned  in light of parallel processing models of information processing   (Harwood   &   Hardy,   2001).   Goal   states   are   very dynamic and can change from moment to moment as information   is   processed   (Gernigon,   d’Arripe-Longueville, Delignières, & Ninot, 2004). An athlete may begin a task with strong task-involved motivation, but contextual events may  make  the  athlete  wish  to  demonstrate  superiority  to others, and so the athlete becomes ego-involved in the task. Thus, goal states are dynamic and ebb and flow depending on the perception of the athlete.

The measurement of goal states is a particularly challenging task. It has been done in three ways. One has been to take an existing goal orientation measure and reword the stem to obtain  a  state  measure  (e.g.,  Hall  &  Kerr,  1997;  Williams, 1998). A second has been to use single-item measures asking participants  to  indicate  whether  they  focus  on  achieving  a personal standard of performance (self-referenced) or beating  others  in  an  upcoming  contest  (other-referenced;  e.g., Harwood  &  Swain,  1998).  The  third  way  is  to  ask  participants to view video replays of the event and retrospectively reflect on their goal involvement at any one point in the contest (e.g., J. Smith & Harwood, 2001). Although the first two procedures  may  be  more  predictive  of  the  initial  state  of involvement  than  the  orientation  measures  per  se  (Duda, 2001), Duda has argued that these procedures may not capture the essence of task and ego involvement. In addition, it may be argued that because the states are so dynamic, even if you are able to reflect the state of involvement at the outset of the competition, as the state of involvement ebbs and flows as task and competitive information is processed, we have no indication of the changes that may occur (Roberts, 2001).  It  is  naive  and  conceptually  inconsistent  to  assume that  the  state  of  involvement  will  remain  stable  throughout the contest.

The best way of estimating the state of involvement currently available is the procedure used by J. Smith and Harwood (2001). At least we obtain participants’ observations of their goal involvement at different times of the contest. This is a superior procedure to determine goal involvement that takes into consideration its dynamic nature. However, this  procedure  is  very  labor-intensive;  it  has  to  be  done with each participant over the course of the contest.

Clearly, the development of an assessment procedure for the  state  of  goal  involvement  is  a  major  task,  especially when one recognizes that achievement goal theory is predicated on one’s task or ego involvement in the achievement task.  As  has  been  the  case  with  measuring  state  anxiety, obtaining repeated measures while an athlete is engaged in competition is a practical nightmare. And we have to recognize that repetitive assessments of goal involvement during   a   competitive   encounter   may   have   the   effect   of changing an athlete’s goal involvement state (Duda, 2001)! Certainly,  forcing  task-involved  athletes  to  consider  why they are doing what they are doing may make them more self-aware and ego-involved in the task. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, the retrospective recall strategy of J. Smith and Harwood (2001) is clearly the better procedure, despite its disadvantages.

Goal Orientations

It is assumed that individuals are predisposed (e.g., by their personal theory of achievement) to act in an egoor taskinvolved manner; these predispositions are called achievement   goal   orientations.   Individual   differences   in   the disposition to be egoor task-involved may be the result of socialization through taskor ego-involving contexts in the home  or  experiences  in  significant  achievement  contexts (e.g.,   classrooms,   physical   activities;   Nicholls,   1989; Roberts et al., 1997).

Goal orientations are not to be viewed as traits or based on  needs.  Rather,  they  are  cognitive  schemas  that  are dynamic and subject to change as information pertaining to one’s performance on the task is processed. But the orientations  do  have  some  stability  over  time  (Duda  &  Whitehead,  1998;  Roberts,  Treasure,  &  Balague,  1998).  These self-cognitions  are  assumed  to  be  relatively  enduring.  As examples,  Dweck  (1986)  considers  that  one’s  theory  of intelligence  is  relatively  stable,  and  Nicholls  (1984)  considers  one’s  conceptualization  of  ability  to  be  stable  as well. Thus, being taskor ego-oriented refers to the inclination of the individual to be taskor ego-involved.

To measure goal orientations, researchers have typically created  questionnaires  that  are  assumed  to  assess  ego  and task  goal  orientations  (e.g.,  Nicholls,  Patashnik,  &  Nolen, 1985). Although Dweck and her colleagues (e.g., Dweck & Leggett,   1988)   conceptualize   and   measure   achievement goals as dichotomous, it has been more usual for researchers to  assume  that  the  two  goals  are  conceptually  orthogonal and  to  measure  them  accordingly  (Duda  &  Whitehead, 1998; Nicholls et al., 1985; Roberts et al., 1998).

Nicholls   (1989)   has   argued   that   to   assess   personal achievement  goals,  individuals  should  be  asked  about  the criteria that make them feel successful in a given situation, rather  than  noting  their  definition  of  competence.  In  line with  this  suggestion,  Roberts  and  colleagues  (Roberts  & Balague,  1989;  Roberts  et  al.,  1998;  Treasure  &  Roberts, 1994b)  have  developed  the  Perception  of  Success  Questionnaire  (POSQ),  and  Duda  and  colleagues  (Duda  & Nicholls, 1992; Duda & Whitehead, 1998) have developed the   Task   and   Ego   Orientation   in   Sport   Questionnaire (TEOSQ).  Both  have  demonstrated  acceptable  reliability and construct validity (Duda & Whitehead, 1998; Marsh, 1994; Roberts et al., 1998). Although other scales exist, the POSQ and the TEOSQ best meet the conceptual criteria of measuring orthogonal achievement goals in sport (Duda & Whitehead,  1998).  When  developing  scales  in  the  future, the  constructs  identified  must  be  conceptually  coherent with achievement goal theory. This has not always been the case in the past (e.g., Gill & Deeter, 1988; Vealey & Campbell, 1988), and this has created some conceptual confusion (Marsh, 1994).

Motivational Implications of Goal Orientations

The majority of research in goal orientations has focused on the antecedents and consequences of goal orientations. In this section, we briefly review the research on the association between achievement goals and both cognitive and affective variables, and important outcome variables.

Perceptions of Competence

One   of   the   fundamental   differences   between   task  and ego-oriented athletes is the way they define and assess competence. Task-oriented individuals tend to construe competence  based  on  self-referenced  criteria  and  are  primarily concerned with mastery of the task, so they are more likely than  ego-oriented  individuals  to  develop  perceived  competence over time (Elliott & Dweck, 1988). In contrast, ego oriented  individuals  feel  competent  when  they  compare favorably  in  relation  to  others,  so  high  perceived  relative ability or competence is less likely to be maintained in ego orientation,  especially  for  those  participants  who  already question their ability (see Dweck, 1986). This prediction of achievement  goal  theory  has  been  supported  in  numerous studies with a variety of conceptualizations of competence perceptions (Chi, 1994; Cury, Biddle, Sarrazin, & Famose, 1997; Kavussanu & Roberts, 1996; Nicholls & Miller, 1983, 1984a; Vlachopoulos & Biddle, 1996, 1997).

Thus,  several  lines  of  research  suggest  that  using  the task-involving  conception  of  achievement  to  judge  demonstrated competence enhances resiliency of perceived competence. The implications of these findings are particularly important in learning contexts. For example, for individuals who are beginning to learn a new physical skill, holding a task orientation may be instrumental in facilitating perceptions  of  competence,  effort,  and  persistence,  and  consequently success in the activity. It is not surprising that Van Yperen  and  Duda  (1999),  in  their  study  with  Dutch  male soccer players, found that athletes high in task orientation were  judged  by  their  coaches  to  possess  greater  soccer skills  from  pre to  postseason.  A  task  orientation  fosters perceptions of competence and success for individuals who are either high or low in perceived competence and encourages the exertion of effort. An ego orientation, on the other hand, may lower perceptions of success, perceived competence, and thus effort, especially for those individuals who already are unsure of their ability.

Beliefs about the Causes of Success

Nicholls (1989, 1992) suggests that one’s goal in conjunction with one’s beliefs about the causes of success in a situation constitute one’s personal theory of how things work in  achievement  situations.  For  individuals  with  low  perceived ability, a belief that ability causes success will most likely  result  in  frustration,  a  lack  of  confidence  and  may even lead to dropping out, as these individuals feel they do not  possess  the  ability  required  to  be  successful.  In  the physical activity domain, where practice and hard work are so essential for improvement, especially at the early stages of  learning,  the  belief  that  effort  leads  to  success  is  the most adaptive belief for sustaining persistence.

Research on young athletes (e.g., Hom, Duda, & Miller, 1993; Newton & Duda, 1993), high school students (Duda&  Nicholls,  1992;  Lochbaum  &  Roberts,  1993),  British youth (Duda, Fox, Biddle, & Armstrong, 1992; Treasure & Roberts,  1994a),  young  disabled  athletes  participating  in wheelchair  basketball  (White  &  Duda,  1993),  and  elite adult  athletes  (Duda  &  White,  1992;  Guivernau  &  Duda, 1995;   Roberts   &   Ommundsen,   1996)   has   consistently demonstrated that a task goal orientation is associated with the belief that hard work and cooperation lead to success in sport. In general, ego orientation has been associated with the view that success is achieved through having high ability and using deception strategies such as cheating and trying  to  impress  the  coach.  A  similar  pattern  of  results  has emerged  in  the  physical  education  context  (Walling  & Duda,  1995),  as  well  as  in  research  with  college  students participating in a variety of physical activity classes (e.g., Kavussanu & Roberts, 1996; Roberts, Treasure, & Kavussanu, 1996).

Purposes of Sport

In classroom-based research, ego orientation has been associated with the belief that the purpose of education is to provide one with wealth and social status, which is evidence of superior  ability.  Task  orientation,  on  the  other  hand,  has been linked to the view that an important purpose of school education  is  to  enhance  learning  and  understanding  of  the world and to foster commitment to society (Nicholls et al.,1985;   Thorkildsen,   1988).   Similar   findings   have   been reported  in  the  athletic  arena  (e.g.,  Duda,  1989;  Duda  & Nicholls, 1992; Roberts, Hall, Jackson, Kimiecik, & Tonymon,  1995;  Roberts  &  Ommundsen,  1996;  Roberts  et  al., 1996,  1997;  Treasure  &  Roberts,  1994a;  White,  Duda,  & Keller, 1998), indicating that worldviews cut across educational and sport contexts.

Task orientation has been associated with the belief that the  purpose  of  sport  is  to  enhance  self-esteem,  advance good  citizenship,  foster  mastery  and  cooperation  (Duda, 1989), encourage a physically active lifestyle (White et al., 1998), and foster lifetime skills and pro-social values such as  social  responsibility,  cooperation,  and  willingness  to follow rules (Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996; Roberts et al., 1996).  Likewise,  task  orientation  is  associated  with  the view  that  the  purpose  of  physical  education  is  to  provide students  with  opportunities  for  improvement,  hard  work, and  collaboration  with  peers  (Papaioannou  &  McDonald, 1993; Walling & Duda, 1995). In contrast, ego orientation has been linked to the view that sport should provide one with social status (Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996; Roberts et   al.,   1996),   enhance   one’s   popularity   (Duda,   1989; Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996) and career mobility, build a competitive spirit (Duda, 1989), and teach superiority and deceptive tactics (Duda, 1989; Duda & White, 1992). Ego orientation  is  also  associated  with  the  view  that  the  purpose  of  physical  education  is  to  provide  students  with  an easy   class   and   teach   them   to   be   more   competitive (Papaioannou & McDonald, 1993; Walling & Duda, 1995).

Affect and Intrinsic Interest

One  of  the  most  consistent  findings  in  achievement  goal research  has  been  the  link  between  task  orientation  and experienced  enjoyment,  satisfaction,  and  interest  during participation  in  physical  activity  for  high  school  students (Duda,  Chi,  Newton,  Walling,  &  Catley,  1995;  Duda  & Nicholls,  1992),  athletes  competing  in  international  competition  (Walling,  Duda,  &  Chi,  1993),  and  college  students enrolled in a variety of physical activity classes (e.g., Duda et al., 1995; Kavussanu & Roberts, 1996). A positive relationship  has  also  been  reported  between  task  orientation and flow, an intrinsically enjoyable experience in college athletes (Jackson & Roberts, 1992). In the studies just cited, ego orientation was either inversely related or unrelated to intrinsic interest, satisfaction, or enjoyment.

Participants with a high task orientation, in combination with either a high or low ego orientation, experience greater enjoyment than those participants who are high in ego orientation and low in task orientation (Biddle, Akande, Vlachopoulos, & Fox, 1996; Cury et al., 1996; Goudas, Biddle, & Fox, 1994; Vlachopoulos & Biddle, 1996, 1997). A task orientation seems to be especially important for continued participation  in  physical  activity  as  it  is  associated  with enjoyment,  and  this  occurs  regardless  of  one’s  perceived success  (Goudas  et  al.,  1994)  or  perceived  ability  (Vlachopoulos & Biddle, 1997) and intrinsic interest (Goudas, Biddle, Fox, & Underwood, 1995).

Another  interesting  finding  of  previous  research  is  the different sources of satisfaction associated with goals. Egooriented athletes glean satisfaction when they demonstrate success in the normative sense and please their coach and friends,  whereas  task-oriented  individuals  feel  satisfied when they have mastery experiences and perceive a sense of accomplishment during their sport participation (Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996; Treasure & Roberts, 1994a).

Probably the most significant study to illustrate the association  of  goals  with  affect  was  conducted  by  Ntoumanis and Biddle (1999). They conducted a meta-analysis with 41 independent  samples  and  found  that  task  orientation  and positive affect were positively and moderately to highly correlated. The relationship between ego orientation and both positive  and  negative  affect  was  small.  In  essence,  being task-involved fosters positive affect in physical activities.


Roberts (1986) was the first to suggest that athletes adopting an ego orientation may experience anxiety as a function of whether or not they believe they can demonstrate sufficient competence in an achievement context. Anxiety should be  less  likely  with  a  task  orientation,  because  an  individual’s  self-worth  is  not  threatened.  Research  has  generally supported  the  tenets  of  goal  theory  (Roberts,  2001).  Task orientation has been negatively associated with precompetitive anxiety (Vealey & Campbell, 1988), cognitive anxiety with young athletes (Ommundsen & Pedersen, 1999), somatic and cognitive anxiety (Hall & Kerr, 1997), task-irrelevant worries and the tendency to think about withdrawing from an  activity  (Newton  &  Duda,  1992),  and  concerns  about mistakes and parental criticisms (Hall & Kerr, 1997; Hall, Kerr,  &  Matthews,  1998).  Further,  a  task  orientation  has been associated with keeping one’s concentration and feeling good about the game (Newton & Duda, 1992) and with effective use of coping strategies in elite competition (Pensgaard  &  Roberts,  2003).  An  ego  orientation,  on  the  other hand, has been positively related to state and trait anxiety (Boyd,  1990;  Newton  &  Duda,  1992;  Vealey  &  Campbell, 1988; White & Zellner, 1996), cognitive anxiety in the form of worry (White & Zellner, 1996), getting upset in competition,   and   concentration   disruption   during   competition (Newton & Duda, 1992; White & Zellner, 1996).

Most studies have been conducted with very young athletes (Hall & Kerr, 1997) or with recreational or physical education students (Hall et al., 1998; Ommundsen & Pedersen,  1999;  Papaioannou  &  Kouli,  1999).  Ommundsen  and Pedersen remind us, however, that it is not sufficient simply to  state  that  being  task-involved  is  beneficial  in  terms  of anxiety.  They  found  that  being  task-involved  did  decrease cognitive   trait   anxiety,   but   low   perceived   competence increased both somatic and cognitive anxiety. This suggests that  being  task-involved  is  beneficial,  but  that  perceived competence is an important predictor of anxiety, too. Being task-oriented  and  perceiving  one’s  competence  to  be  high are both important antecedents to reduce anxiety in sport.

The  most  interesting  aspect  of  the  recent  work  with achievement  goal  theory  has  been  the  attention  paid  to achievement  strategies  and  outcome  variables,  especially performance,  exerted  effort,  overtraining  and  dropping out,  and  cheating  in  sport.  Achievement  goal  theory  and research in educational and sport settings suggest that personal  theories  of  achievement  comprise  different  beliefs about what leads to success (Nicholls, 1989).

Achievement Strategies

Lochbaum and Roberts (1993) were the first to report that emphasis  on  problem-solving  and  adaptive  learning  strategies  was  tied  to  a  task  orientation  in  a  sport  setting. Research   (Lochbaum   &   Roberts,   1993;   Ommundsen   & Roberts, 1999; Roberts et al., 1995; Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996)  has  demonstrated  that  task  orientation  is  associated with adaptive achievement strategies, such as being committed to practice, being less likely to avoid practice, learning, and effort. Typically, in these investigations, ego orientation corresponds to a tendency to avoid practice and to a focus on winning  during  competition.  Goals  also  differentiate  athletes  in  terms  of  the  perceived  benefits  of  practice.  Thus, ego-oriented athletes consider practice as a means to demonstrate  competence  relative  to  other  athletes,  whereas  their task-oriented counterparts view practice as a means to foster  team  cohesion  and  skill  development  (Lochbaum  & Roberts, 1993; Roberts & Ommundsen, 1996).

When choosing post-climbing task feedback strategies, high ego-oriented climbers who were low in perceived ability  were  more  likely  to  reject  task-related  and  objective performance  feedback  than  were  task-oriented  climbers (Cury, Sarrazin, & Famose, 1997). In addition, Cury and Sarrazin  (1998)  found  that  high-ego  and  high-ability  athletes  selected  normative  feedback  and  rejected  task-relevant   information.   High-ego-oriented   athletes   with   low ability   requested   no   feedback   and   discarded   objective information. Research has also given evidence that an ego orientation  is  related  to  other  unacceptable  achievement strategies, such as the use of aggression (Rascle, Coulomb, & Pfister, 1998).

These  studies  demonstrate  that  the  achievement  strategies endorsed by physical activity participants are meaningfully related to their goal perspective. Across studies, task orientation  was  coupled  with  adaptive  learning  strategies, the  value  of  practice  to  learn  new  skills  and  improve,  and seeking task-relevant information. In contrast, ego-oriented athletes endorsed avoiding practice as an achievement strategy  and  avoided  task-relevant  information,  preferring  normative feedback (but only when high in perceived ability).

Exerted Effort and Performance

There  is  little  research  to  date  investigating  exerted  effort and  performance.  One  of  the  first  studies  to  provide  evidence of a performance boost from being task-involved was Vealey and Campbell’s (1989). Van Yperen and Duda (1999) found  that  when  football  players  were  task-oriented,  an increase in skilled performance (as perceived by the coach) resulted. In addition, the task-oriented players believed that soccer  success  depended  on  hard  work.  Similarly,  Theeboom, De Knop, and Weiss (1995) investigated the effect of a  mastery  program  on  the  development  of  motor  skills  of children  and  found  that  the  task-involved  group  reported higher  levels  of  enjoyment  and  reliably  exhibited  better motor skills than those who were ego-involved.

However,  the  best  evidence  thus  far  that  task-oriented athletes perform better than ego-oriented athletes has been presented by Sarrazin, Roberts, Cury, Biddle, and Famose (2002), who investigated exerted effort and performance of adolescents involved in a climbing task. The results demonstrated  that  task-involved  boys  exerted  more  effort  than ego-involved boys and performed better (a success rate of 60%  versus  42%),  and  the  degree  of  exerted  effort  was determined  by  an  interaction  of  achievement  goal,  perceived ability, and task difficulty. Ego-involved boys with high perceived ability and task-involved boys with low perceived ability exerted the most effort on the moderate and difficult  courses;  ego-involved  boys  with  low  perceived ability  exerted  the  least  effort  on  the  moderate  and  very difficult courses. Finally, task-involved boys with high perceived ability exerted more effort when the task was perceived as more difficult.

In   general,   the   research   has   shown   that   (a)   taskinvolved people exhibit (or report) greater effort than others  (Cury  et  al.,  1996;  Duda,  1988;  Duda  &  Nicholls, 1992; Durand, Cury, Sarrazin, & Famose, 1996; Goudas et al., 1994; Sarrazin et al., 2002; Solmon, 1996; Tammen, Treasure,  &  Power,  1992),  and  (b)  ego-involved  people with low perceived ability exhibit reduced exerted effort as  opposed  to  people  with  high  perceived  ability  (Cury, Biddle,  et  al.,  1997).  And  there  is  developing  evidence that  being  task-involved  leads  to  better  performance.  To enhance effort, one should focus on being as task-involved as  possible:  Task-involved  people  try  harder!  And  task involved people perform better!

Moral Functioning and Cheating

Achievement goals have also been linked to moral cognitions and moral behavior in sport. A number of recent studies have identified  fairly  consistent  relationships  between  task  and ego  orientations  and  sportspersonship,  moral  functioning, moral  atmosphere,  and  endorsement  of  aggressive  tactics among both youth and adult competitive athletes. In general,  studies  have  shown  that  being  high  in  ego  orientation leads  to  lower  sportspersonship,  more  self-reported  cheating,  lower  moral  functioning  (i.e.,  moral  judgment,  intention, and self-reported cheating behavior), and endorsement of aggression when compared to high task-oriented athletes (Kavussanu  &  Ntoumanis,  2003;  Kavussanu  &  Roberts, 2001;  Lemyre,  Roberts,  &  Ommundsen,  2002;  Lemyre, Roberts, Ommundsen, & Miller, 2001; Ryska, 2003).

In recent research, Lemyre and colleagues (2001, 2002) and Ryska (2003) have found that low ego/high task-oriented young male soccer players consistently endorsed values of  respect  and  concern  for  social  conventions,  rules  and officials,   and   opponents.   Similar   to   sportspersonship, moral functioning and aggression, as well as gender differences  among  these  variables,  have  been  highlighted  in recent sport psychology research. Kavussanu (Kavussanu & Roberts,  2001;  Kavussanu,  Roberts,  &  Ntoumanis,  2002) has consistently found ego orientation to positively predict lower moral functioning and males to be generally higher in ego orientation, lower in task orientation, and significantly lower  in  moral  functioning  as  well  as  endorsing  more aggression than female players.

Recent  research  has  indicated  that  the  coach-created motivational climate may also serve as a precursor to cheating  among  competitive  youth  sport  participants.  Findings by Miller and colleagues (Miller & Roberts, 2003; Miller, Roberts, & Ommundsen, 2004, 2005) show that a high egoinvolving  motivational  climate  was  associated  with  low sportspersonship, low moral functioning and reasoning, low moral  atmosphere,  and  endorsement  of  aggression.  Boys cheated  more  than  girls,  but  within  gender,  ego-involved boys  and  girls  cheated  more  than  task-involved  boys  and girls. For boys in particular, being ego-involved meant that they  were  more  likely  to  engage  in  cheating  behavior,  to engage in injurious acts, to be low in moral reasoning, and to perceive the moral atmosphere in the team to be supportive of cheating.

Competitive  sport  often  places  individuals  in  conflicting  situations  that  emphasize  winning  over  sportspersonship and fair play. It would be wrong, however, to attribute this  to  the  competitive  nature  of  sport.  The  results  just cited suggest that it is not the competitive context in itself that  is  the  issue.  Rather,  it  may  be  the  salience  of  ego involvement in the athletic environment that induces differential  concern  for  moral  behavior  and  cheating,  rules, respect  for  officials,  and  fair  play  conventions  among young  players.  If  athletes  are  to  develop  good  sportspersonship  behaviors  and  sound  moral  reasoning,  coaches should reinforce the importance of task-involving achievement criteria in the competitive environment.


Another outcome variable that is becoming popular in sport research is burnout (see Eklund & Cresswell, Chapter 28). Why is it that some athletes burn out, and what are the precursors of burning out? Some recent research from a motivational   perspective   has   given   us   some   interesting findings. Freudenberger (1980) has explained burnout as a syndrome   that   includes   both   physical   and   emotional exhaustion. These symptoms occur concurrently with patterns  of  behavior  that  are  strongly  achievement  oriented (Hall & Kerr, 1997). Individuals experiencing burnout tend to show a strong commitment to the pursuit of goals and set high standards for themselves. Despite personal investment and  great  persistence,  they  often  experience  depression, depersonalization,  disillusionment,  and  dissatisfaction  as their goals are continually unmet. Hall et al. (1998) reported  a  strong  relationship  among  elite  athletes’  perfectionism,  achievement  goals,  and  aptitudes  to  perform.  It  is when athletes continually perceived their ability and their effort  levels  to  be  inadequate  to  meet  their  achievement goals that the maladaptive nature of their motivational orientation  became  apparent.  The  athlete  may  drop  out  to maintain any real sense of self-worth.

Cohn  (1990)  has  found  that  athletes  at  risk  of  burning out  were  likely  to  either  participate  in  too  much  training and  competition,  lacked  enjoyment  while  practicing  their sport, or experienced too much selfor other-induced pressure.  Investigating  young  elite  tennis  players,  Gould  and colleagues  (Gould,  1996;  Gould,  Tuffey,  Udry,  &  Loehr, 1996;  Gould,  Udry,  Tuffey,  &  Loehr,  1996)  found  that burned-out athletes believed they had less input into their own  training,  were  higher  in  amotivation,  and  were  more withdrawn.  The  burned-out  players  did  not  differ  from their non-burned-out counterparts in terms of the number of  hours  they  trained;  consequently  Gould  and  colleagues posited that the crucial factors leading to burnout were psychological  (motivational)  rather  than  physical  in  nature. This  was  confirmed  by  Lemyre,  Treasure,  and  Roberts (2006), who found that variation in motivation contributed to the onset of burnout.

In  a  series  of  studies  investigating  the  psychological determinants of burnout, Lemyre and colleagues examined the relationship between motivational disposition variables at the start of the season and signs of burnout at season’s end.  Lemyre  (2005)  found  that  elite  winter  sport  athletes who  were  ego-involved,  focused  on  normative  comparisons,  and  preoccupied  with  achieving  unrealistic  goals, who  doubted  their  own  ability,  and  who  had  a  coach  and parents who emphasized performance outcomes were more at  risk  of  developing  symptoms  of  burnout  than  the  more task-involved  athletes.  Lemyre,  Roberts,  Treasure,  Stray Gundersen,  and  Matt  (2004)  investigated  the  relationship between psychological variables and hormonal variation to burnout in elite athletes. Results indicated that variation in basal cortisol accounted for 15% of the variance in athlete burnout,  and  the  psychological  variables  of  perfectionism (20%),  perceived  task  involvement  (12%),  and  subjective performance satisfaction (18%) explained 50% of the total variance (67%) in athlete burnout at the end of the season. These findings are meaningful as they underline the importance of personal dispositions (perfectionism and achievement goals) on burnout vulnerability in elite athletes.

The literature just reviewed addressed achievement goals from an individual difference perspective in the traditional achievement  goal  framework.  It  supports  meaningful  relationships between personal goals of achievement and cognitive  and  affective  beliefs  about  involvement  in  physical activity. In addition, we have shown that outcomes such as exerted  effort,  performance,  moral  behavior  and  cheating, and  burnout  are  affected  by  whether  one  is  task or  egoinvolved. But whether one is in a state of task or ego involvement   is   not   only   dependent   on   one’s   personal   goal   of achievement. The context also has an important influence on one’s state of involvement. We address that literature next.

The Motivational Climate

A fundamental tenet of achievement goal theory is the central  role  the  situation  plays  in  the  motivation  process (Nicholls,  1984,  1989).  Consistent  with  other  motivation research that has emphasized the situational determinants of  behavior  (e.g.,  deCharms,  1976,  1984;  Deci  &  Ryan, 1985,  2002),  research  from  an  achievement  goal  perspective has examined how the structure of the environment can make  it  more  or  less  likely  that  achievement  behaviors, thoughts, and feelings associated with a particular achievement goal are adopted. The premise of this line of research is that the nature of an individual’s experience influences the degree to which task and ego criteria are perceived as salient  in  the  context.  This  is  then  assumed  to  affect  the achievement behaviors, cognition, and affective responses through individuals’ perception of the behaviors necessary to achieve success (Roberts et al., 1997).

Adopting  the  term  motivational  climate (Ames,  1992b) to  describe  the  goal  structure  emphasized  in  the  achievement context, researchers have examined two dimensions of the  motivational  climate,  mastery  and  performance,  in sport and physical activity. Mastery (or task-involving) climates refer to structures that support effort, cooperation, and an emphasis on learning and task mastery. Conversely, performance (or ego-involving) climates refer to situations that foster normative comparisons, intrateam competition, and  a  punitive  approach  by  teachers  and  coaches  to  mistakes committed by participants.

A study conducted by Parish and Treasure (2003) is representative of much of the extant literature in the area. In this case, the influence of perceptions of the motivational climate and perceived ability on situational motivation and the physical activity behavior of a large sample of adolescent  male  and  female  physical  education  students  was examined.  Consistent  with  achievement  goal  theory,  the results showed that perceptions of a mastery climate were strongly  related  to  more  self-determined  forms  of  situational motivation (intrinsic and identified motivation) and, along with gender and perceived ability, most significantly predictive  of  the  actual  physical  activity  behavior  of  the participants. In contrast, perceptions of a performance climate   were   found   to   be   strongly   related   to   less   selfdetermined forms of situational motivation (extrinsic and amotivational) and unrelated to physical activity.

Consistent  with  the  findings  reported  by  Parish  and Treasure (2003), the extant literature in physical education and  sport  suggests  that  the  creation  of  a  mastery  motivational climate is likely to be important in optimizing positive  (i.e.,  well-being,  sportspersonship,  persistence,  task perseverance, adaptive achievement strategies) and attenuating   negative   (i.e.,   overtraining,   self-handicapping) responses  (e.g.,  Kuczka  &  Treasure,  2005;  Miller  et  al., 2004; Ommundsen & Roberts, 1999; Sarrazin et al., 2002; Standage, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2003; Standage, Treasure, Hooper,  &  Kuczka,  in  press;  Treasure  &  Roberts,  2001). This  pattern  of  findings  has  been  confirmed  in  a  metaanalysis  consisting  of  statistically  estimated  effect  sizes from  14  studies  (N = 4,484)  that  examined  the  impact  of different motivation climates in sport and physical education  on  cognitive  and  affective  responses  (Ntoumanis  & Biddle, 1999). The evidence, therefore, supports the position that perceptions of a mastery motivational climate are associated  with  more  adaptive  motivational  and  affective response  patterns  than  perceptions  of  a  performance  climate in the context of sport and physical education.

An Interactionist Approach

Achievement goal research has shown that individual variables   and   situational   variables   separately   influence achievement   behavior,   cognition,   and   affect.   Although these two lines of research have been conducted in relative isolation, an interactionist approach that looks to combine both  types  of  variable  is  expected  to  provide  a  far  more complete understanding of the motivation process. To this end, Dweck and Leggett (1988) suggested that dispositional goal orientations should be seen as an individual variable that  will  determine  the  probability  of  adopting  a  certain goal or action, that is, task or ego state of goal involvement, and a particular behavior pattern in achievement contexts. Situational  variables,  such  as  perceptions  of  the  motivational  climate,  were  proposed  as  potential  moderators  of the  influence  of  the  individual  variables.  As  Roberts  and colleagues (1997) argue, when the situational criteria are vague or weak, an individual dispositional goal orientation should hold sway. In contexts where the situational criteria are  particularly  salient,  it  is  possible  that  perceptions  of the climate may override an individual’s dispositional goal orientation and be a stronger predictor of behavioral, cognitive, and affective outcomes. It is also proposed that children and young adolescents, who have yet to firm up their personal theories of achievement, may be more susceptible to the influence of situational variables than older adolescents and adults (Roberts & Treasure, 1992).

The  result  of  the  limited  research  that  has  examined both  individual  and  situational  variables  has  shown  that taking  into  account  both  of  these  variables  enhances  our understanding  of  the  sport  context  (e.g.,  Kavussanu  & Roberts,  1996;  Seifriz,  Duda,  &  Chi,  1992).  The  limited evidence  to  date  also  provides  support  for  Dweck  and Leggett’s (1988) contention that situational variables may moderate the influence of goal orientations (e.g., Swain & Harwood, 1996; Treasure & Roberts, 1998). When significant  interaction  effects  emerged,  they  did  so  in  a  manner consistent  with  a  moderation  model.  Although  it  is  often difficult to statistically find significant interaction effects (Aguinis & Stone-Romero, 1997), the findings of the limited studies that have been conducted are consistent with the fundamental  tenets  of  achievement  goal  theory  and  speak to the veracity of investigating the interaction in addition to the main effect of individual and situational variables.

Enhancing Motivation

Research  from  an  achievement  goal  perspective  in  sport and physical education has demonstrated that goal orientations and perceptions of the motivational climate are relevant   to   the   ongoing   stream   of   achievement   behavior, cognition,  and  affect.  Given  the  body  of  empirical  work that  has  documented  the  adaptive  motivation  and  wellbeing responses of students who perceive mastery or taskinvolving  climates,  physical  education  teacher  and  sport coach  education  programs  would  benefit  from  integrating educational information pertaining to the creation of mastery climates into their curricula. Specifically, researchers interested  in  the  sport  and  physical  education  experience need to develop strategies and guidelines and explore ways in  which  coaches,  parents,  and  other  significant  social agents  can  engage  in  the  creation  of  a  mastery  or  taskinvolving motivational climate.

A  paucity  of  intervention  research  has  been  conducted to  assess  the  viability  of  the  teacher  and  coach  education programs designed to enhance motivation from an achievement  goal  perspective  (i.e.,  Lloyd  &  Fox,  1992;  Solmon, 1996; Treasure & Roberts, 2001). Comparing two different approaches to teaching an aerobics/fitness class to adolescent females, Lloyd and Fox found that participants in the mastery  condition  reported  higher  motivation  to  continue participating  in  aerobics  and  more  enjoyment  than  those who participated in the performance condition. Consistent with the findings of Lloyd and Fox, Solmon found that seventh and  eighth-grade  students  who  participated  in  the mastery  condition  demonstrated  more  willingness  to  persist  in  a  difficult  juggling  task  than  those  in  the  performance condition. In addition, students in the performance condition were more likely to attribute success during the intervention to normative ability than those in the mastery condition. This finding is consistent with Nicholls’s (1989) contention that achievement goals and beliefs about success are conceptually linked.

Similar to the intervention designed by Solmon (1996), Treasure and Roberts (2001) drew on strategies suggested by  Ames  (1992a,  1992b,  1992c)  to  promote  either  a  mastery  or  a  performance  climate.  The  strategies  were  then organized  into  the  interdependent  structures  that  Epstein (1988,  1989)  has  argued  define  the  achievement  context: task, authority, recognition, grouping, evaluation, and time structures,   better   known   by   the   acronym   TARGET. Responses  of  female  and  male  young  adolescent  physical education students suggest that a teacher can influence the salience  of  a  mastery  or  performance  climate  and,  in  so doing,  affect  a  child’s  motivation  in  physical  education. Although  the  results  of  the  studies  conducted  by  Solmon and Treasure and Roberts indicate that adopting and adapting  classroom-based  intervention  programs  in  the  context of  physical  education  may  be  effective,  it  is  important  to recognize   that   there   may   be   significant   differences between  achievement  contexts.  This  point  is  even  more important  when  one  considers  the  achievement  context  of youth sport. In assessing and implementing interventions to enhance the quality of motivation in youth sport, therefore, researchers need to be sensitive to differences between the achievement contexts (Nicholls, 1992).

The  few  intervention  studies  that  have  been  conducted clearly  show  that  a  mastery  climate  has  positive  behavioral, cognitive, and affective outcomes. All of the studies conducted to date, however, have been short term and limited  in  what  they  assess.  Randomized,  controlled  studies over time are needed to truly assess the causal role of motivational climates on motivational outcomes.

The Hierarchical Approach To Achievement Goals

One   of   the   most   provocative   attempts   at   revising   and extending  achievement  goal  theory  in  the  past  decade  has emerged  from  work  on  the  hierarchical  model  of  achievement motivation (Elliot, 1999). This model is based on the premise  that  approach  and  avoidance  motivation  represent fundamentally different strivings. The approach-avoidance distinction has a long intellectual history (Elliot & Covington, 2001) and was considered in early writing on achievement goals (e.g., Nicholls, 1984, p. 328) but, until recently, was largely neglected in subsequent empirical work.

Briefly, the hierarchical model of achievement motivation   asserts   that   dynamic   states   of   achievement   goal involvement are influenced by (a) stable individual differences  (e.g.,  motives,  self-perceptions,  relationally  based variables,  neurophysiologic  predispositions;  Elliot,  1999) and  (b)  situational  variables  (e.g.,  motivational  climate; Ames,   1992c;   Ames   &   Archer,   1988).   In   turn,   these dynamic  states  of  goal  involvement  are  posited  as  direct predictors of achievement processes and outcomes. A complete presentation of the hierarchical model of achievement motivation is beyond the scope of this article (see Elliot, 1999).  Instead,  we  focus  on  a  major  implication  of  the premise that approach and avoidance motivation are fundamentally   different—specifically,   the   implication   that approach-valenced achievement goals may be distinguished (both   conceptually   and   empirically)   from   avoidance-valenced achievement goals.

An Expanded Model of Achievement Goals

As described earlier in this article, the prevailing models of achievement goals in the educational, industrial-organizational,  social,  and  sport  literatures  have  been  dichotomous  in  nature.  Goals  are  distinguished  largely  (but  not always  exclusively)  on  how  competence  is  defined.  From this perspective, competence could be defined in task-referential  terms  (e.g.,  How  well  did  I  perform  this  task  in relation  to  how  well  it  could  possibly  be  performed?),  in self-referential  terms  (e.g.,  How  well  did  I  perform  this task in relation to my previous performances?), or in normative terms (e.g., How well did I perform this task in relation  to  others?).  Due  to  their  conceptual  and  empirical similarities,  the  vast  majority  of  research  combined  task and self-referential definitions of competence into a single task,  or  mastery,  goal.  Normative  definitions  of  competence  have  typically  been  designated  as  ego,  or  performance, goals. We use the terms mastery and performance to refer to the goals in the hierarchical model.

In  the  mid-1990s,  several  scholars  working  in  parallel (e.g., Elliot, 1997; Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996; Middleton & Midgley, 1997; Skaalvik, 1997; Skaalvik & Valas, 1994) returned to the possibility that individuals may sometimes focus on striving not to be incompetent as much as or more than they are striving to be competent. In achievement situations,  competence  and  incompetence  are  outcomes  that individuals  typically  find  appetitive  and  aversive,  respectively.  Thus,  it  is  possible  to  differentiate  goals  based  on their valence, or the degree to which the focal outcome is pleasant or unpleasant.

In   reviewing   the   achievement   goal   literature,   Elliot (1994) observed that performance goals that focused on the pleasant  possibility  of  competence  (approach  goals)  led  to different outcomes from performance goals focused on the unpleasant possibility of incompetence (avoidance goals). A meta-analysis of the motivation literature revealed that goal valence moderated the effects of performance goals on participants’ intrinsic motivation (Rawsthorne & Elliot, 1999). Performance-avoidance   goals   reduced   both   free-choice behavior  and  self-reported  interest  in  a  task,  whereas  performance-approach goals did not have any consistent effect on either intrinsic motivation index. This finding led to the introduction of a tripartite model of achievement goals comprising  mastery,  performance-approach  goals,  and  performance-avoidance  goals  (Elliot  &  Harackiewicz,  1996).  In the first empirical test of this tripartite model, the valence of performance goals moderated relations between the goals and relevant antecedents (e.g., achievement motives, competence  expectations,  sex)  and  consequences  (e.g.,  intrinsic motivation). A subsequent series of studies extended understanding of how the valence of performance goals can moderate relations between goals and achievement processes and outcomes (e.g., Cury, Da Fonséca, Rufo, Peres, & Sarrazin, 2003;  Cury,  Da  Fonséca,  Rufo,  &  Sarrazin,  2002;  Cury, Elliot,   Sarrazin,   Da   Fonséca,   &   Rufo,   2002;   Elliot   & Church, 1997; Elliot & McGregor, 1999).

Thus, the argument was proffered that achievement goals should  consider  both  the  definition  of  competence  and  the valence of the striving, and the model was expanded to include a fourth possible achievement goal: mastery avoidance goals (Elliot, 1999; Elliot & Conroy, 2005). As seen in Figure 1.1, the two definitions of competence (i.e., mastery/task versus performance/ego)   and   two   valences   of   strivings   (i.e., approaching competence versus avoiding incompetence) yield a  2  ×  2  model  of  achievement  goals  comprising  mastery approach,   mastery-avoidance,   performance-approach,   and performance-avoidance  goals.  These  goals  can  be  assessed with  the  2  ×  2  Achievement  Goal  Questionnaire  for  Sport (Conroy, Elliot, & Hofer, 2003).

Mastery-approach  (MAp)  goals  focus  on  performing  a task  as  well  as  possible  or  surpassing  a  previous  performance on a task (i.e., learning, improving). They are equivalent to existing conceptions of mastery or task goals in the dichotomous model of achievement goals. They are expected  to  be  the  optimal  achievement  goal  because  they  combine the more desirable definition of competence with the more  desirable  valence.  In  sport  settings,  these  goals  are extremely common because they are directly implicated in individuals’  striving  for  personal  records  and  peak  performances as well as skill acquisition processes.

Performance-approach  (PAp)  goals  focus  on  outperforming others. They are equivalent to existing conceptions of performance or ego goals in the dichotomous model of achievement goals. These goals may be adaptive when, as noted earlier, they are accompanied by a high perception of competence.  However,  in  the  2  ×  2  model,  PAp  goals  are expected  to  be  suboptimal  because  of  their  performance definition  of  competence,  but  not  entirely  dysfunctional because  they  are  valenced  toward  competence.  PAp  goals are probably especially salient because of the social comparison  processes  inherent  in  sport  and  other  competitive activities.

Performance-avoidance  (PAv)  goals  focus  on  not  being  outperformed   by   others.   As   described   previously,   PAv goals provided the impetus to consider how the valence of goals might enhance the predictive power of the goal construct. They are expected to be the most dysfunctional of all achievement goals because they combine the less desirable   definition   of   competence   with   the   less   desirable valence.  These  goals  may  be  expressed  when  individuals are  concerned  about  losing  a  contest  or  appearing  incompetent in comparison with others.

Mastery-avoidance  (MAv)  goals  focus  on  not  making mistakes or not doing worse than a previous performance. As the latest addition to the achievement goal family, relatively  little  is  known  about  these  goals.  They  combine  adesirable  definition  of  competence  with  an  undesirable focus  on  avoiding  incompetence,  so  they  are  expected  to exhibit a mixed set of consequences. Elliot (1999; Elliot & Conroy, 2005; Elliot & McGregor, 2001) has theorized that these goals may be particularly relevant for perfectionists striving for flawlessness, for athletes focused on maintaining  their  skill  level  as  they  near  the  end  of  their  careers, and  for  older  adults  fighting  off  the  natural  functional declines associated with

Figure  1.1    The  2  ×  2  achievement  goal  framework.  Adapted from “A 2 × 2 Achievement Goal Framework,” by A. J. Elliot and H.  A.  McGregor,  2001,  Journal  of  Personality  and  Social  Psychology, 80, p. 502. Copyright 2001 by the American Psychological Association. Adapted with permission.

Antecedents and Consequences of 2 × 2 Goal Adoption

Considering  that  the  vast  majority  of  the  recent  achievement motivation literature in sport has implicitly focused on approach  goals  (i.e.,  MAp,  PAp),  relatively  little  is known about the correlates and consequences of avoidance-valenced achievement goals in sport. This section reviews documented  links  between  the  four  goals  in  the  2  ×  2 framework and theoretically relevant antecedents and consequences (e.g., achievement processes and outcomes). The vast majority of the research on goals in the 2 × 2 framework resides outside of the sport and exercise psychology literature.  Rather  than  relying  exclusively  on  the  nascent sport  psychology  literature  on  2  ×  2  goals,  we  include selected findings from broader social and educational psychology literatures in this review. There is also some conceptual   confusion   about   whether   some   variables   (e.g., competence  valuation)  belong  as  antecedents  or  consequences  of  different  states  of  goal  involvement;  they  are listed according to how they were conceptualized in their respective studies.

Antecedents of 2 × 2 Achievement Goals

Empirically-tested  antecedents  of  the  four  achievement goals  are  summarized  in  Table  1.1  based  on  whether  the antecedents  have  demonstrated  positive,  negative,  or  null relations with each goal. These links are based on bivariate relations between each antecedent and the goal; relatively few  relations  change  when  third  variables  (e.g.,  ability) have been controlled.

Common  antecedents  of  MAp  goal  involvement  appear to   include   appetitive   motivational   dispositions   (e.g., motives,   temperament),   positive   self-perceptions   (e.g., competence and attachment-related perceptions), and perceived situational importance (e.g., competence valuation, class engagement). On the other hand, aversive motivational  dispositions  and  negative  cognitive  representations  of self  and  others  do  not  appear  to  be  associated  with  MAp goal involvement.

Mastery-avoidance   goal   involvement   appears   to   be linked to antecedents such as negative perceptions of self and others (e.g., anxious attachment, fear of failure), entity rather than incremental theories of intelligence, reduced self-determination,  and  perceived  situational  importance. Appetitive  motive  dispositions  do  not  appear  to  be  MAv goal antecedents.

Common  antecedents  of  PAp  goal  involvement  include both appetitive and aversive motivational dispositions, competence perceptions, and entity rather than incremental theories of ability. Attachment security and self-determination do not appear to be PAp goal antecedents.

Finally,  PAv  goal  involvement  appears  to  be  linked to  antecedents  such  as  avoidance  motivational  dispositions,   reduced   competence   expectations,   more   entity and fewer incremental beliefs about ability, and less self-determination.  Appetitive  motivational  dispositions  and attachment   security   do   not   appear   to   be   PAv   goal antecedents.

Overall, socialization processes (e.g., perceived parenting  practices)  were  not  consistently  associated  with  the achievement  goals  adopted  by  participants.  This  finding should  be  expected  because  socialization  processes  are more likely to have direct effects on more stable individual differences  (e.g.,  motives)  than  on  dynamic  constructs such as goals.

Consequences of 2 × 2 Achievement Goals

Table 1.2 summarizes consequences of 2 × 2 achievement goals from previous research. Given that empirical tests of the 2 × 2 model are in their early stages, conclusions drawn here  should  be  interpreted  with  appropriate  caution.  Special  attention  should  be  given  to  the  studies  that  experimentally  manipulated  participants’  goals  (e.g.,  Cury,  Da Fonséca,  et  al.,  2002;  Cury,  Elliot,  et  al.,  2002;  Elliot  & Harackiewicz, 1996) because such manipulations provide a much  stronger  demonstration  of  the  causal  role  theorized for  these  goals  than  do  passive  observation  designs  (particularly when data are collected at a single occasion from a single source).

Mastery-approach  goals  appear  to  be  associated  with the  optimal  set  of  consequences  (e.g.,  enhanced  intrinsic motivation  and  information  processing,  reduced  anxiety, fewer health center visits). Strikingly, MAp goals have not been  linked  to  superior  performance  on  cognitive  tasks. Mastery-avoidance  goals  were  linked  with  a  generally undesirable set of achievement processes (e.g., anxiety, disorganization,  surface  processing)  but  did  not  seem  to  be associated  with  undesirable  outcomes  (e.g.,  performance, health center visits). Performance-approach goals were the only goals to be positively associated with superior performance. These goals also were linked with a partial set of desirable  (e.g.,  more  absorption,  competence  valuation, and   intrinsic   motivation;   less   anxiety)   achievement processes  and  were  not  associated  with  any  undesirable achievement processes. Finally, PAv goals were consistently linked with the most undesirable achievement processes and  outcomes  of  all  four  goals.  Based  on  these  results, MAp  goals  appear  to  be  optimal,  PAv  goals  appear  to  be dysfunctional,  and  both  PAp  and  MAv  goals  are  neither entirely  optimal  nor  entirely  dysfunctional  (with  the  former appearing to be more optimal than the latter).



sport-motivation-t1-1c2Table 1.1    Summary of Empirically Tested Antecedents of 2 × 2 Achievement Goals 

Critical Issues Regarding 2 × 2 Achievement Goals

Elliot  and  colleagues  (e.g.,  Elliot,  1997,  1999;  Elliot  & Conroy, 2005; Elliot & Thrash, 2001, 2002) argue that on both theoretical and empirical grounds, the 2 × 2 model of achievement goals has demonstrated promise for enhancing understanding  of  achievement  motivation.  Nevertheless, research on this model in sport contexts has been limited, and further research is required to demonstrate its veracity   and   potential.   Research   linking   goals,   particularly avoidance  goals,  to  hypothesized  patterns  of  antecedents and  consequences  in  sport  would  be  a  useful  first  step  in this process. Following are some other issues that will need to be addressed in future research.

Controversy   still   exists   over   whether   the   approach avoidance  distinction  merely  represents  differences  in  perceptions  of  competence,  especially  for  the  performance dimension. That is, do perceptions of competence moderate relations between goals and various consequences, and if so, would it not be simpler to omit the valence dimension from the goals model? From a conceptual standpoint, the hierarchical model of achievement motivation frames perceptions of competence as antecedents of achievement goals because high perceptions of competence orient individuals toward the possibility  of  success  and  low  perceptions  of  competence orient  individuals  toward  the  possibility  of  failure  (Elliot, 2005).  From  an  empirical  perspective,  Elliot  and  Harackiewicz (1996) have found that perceived competence failed to moderate the effects of any of their tripartite goal manipulation contrasts (i.e., mastery, PAp, PAv) on intrinsic motivation,   and   all   of   their   main   effects   for   the   goal manipulations   remained   significant   with   the   moderator terms in the model. Based on such evidence, it is argued by Elliot and colleagues that the valence dimension of achievement goals does not appear to be a proxy for perceived competence on either conceptual or empirical grounds.

This approach does not rule out the possibility that individual  differences  in  goal  antecedents  (e.g.,  achievement motives) may moderate the effects of the goals on various consequences. For example, PAp goal involvement has been linked to both appetitive and aversive achievement motives (need for achievement and fear of failure, respectively). It is  possible  that  PAp  goals  energized  by  the  appetitive motive  may  yield  different  consequences  than  would  PAp goals  that  are  energized  by  the  aversive  motive.  A  three way Goal × Motive × Feedback interaction also is conceivable, as PAp goals may change differentially for individuals with  different  motive  dispositions  following  failure/success feedback. These cross-level interaction hypotheses are open empirical questions.

sport-motivation-t1-2Table 1.2    Summary of Empirically Tested Consequences of 2 × 2 Achievement Goals

Next,  it  will  be  important  to  capture  the  dynamic  features of the goals construct to strengthen claims about the causal effects of goals on achievement processes and outcomes. Some argue that relying on dispositional conceptualizations  of  goals  is  inappropriate  in  the  hierarchical model of achievement motivation, but researchers can vary the  temporal  resolution  of  their  goal  assessments.  Some studies may assess goals for an event and track processes and outcomes over the course of the event to use in prospective prediction models (e.g., using preseason goals to predict  changes  in  relevant  outcomes  over  the  course  of  the season).  Other  studies  may  assess  goals,  processes,  and outcomes  on  more  of  a  moment-to-moment  basis  (even though this is difficult to do, as we noted earlier) to capture dynamic links between goals and their consequences (e.g., using  daily  goals  to  predict  daily  fluctuations  in  relevant outcomes over the course of the season). Both approaches will  be  valuable  provided  that  the  temporal  resolution  of the goal assessment is clear when interpreting the results.

Finally,  whereas  a  great  deal  of  data  has  accumulated about   individual   difference   antecedents   of   different achievement goals, relatively little is known about the situational  factors  that  antecede  2  ×  2  goals.  Church,  Elliot, and  Gable  (2001)  reported  differences  in  classroom  environments  that  predicted  students’  tripartite  goals.  There are  few  published  studies  regarding  links  between  situational characteristics and 2 × 2 goal involvement in sport, except research based on achievement goal theory investigating motivational climate that indirectly informs performance and mastery achievement striving (for an exception see Conroy, Kaye, & Coatsworth, 2006).

Reflections On The Hierarchical Model And Achievement Goal Theory

The introduction of the hierarchical model has challenged many  of  the  tenets  and  underlying  assumptions  of  what may be referred to as traditional achievement goal theory. One  of  the  most  important  challenges  and  differences between  the  perspectives  pertains  to  the  energization  of the motivational process. As we have seen, the hierarchical model differentiates goals based on both the definition of competence (a similarity with the dichotomous model) and their  valence  or  the  degree  to  which  the  focal  outcome  is pleasant  or  unpleasant  (a  difference  between  the  models). The  argument  is  that  achievement  goals  should  consider both  the  definition  of  competence  and  the  valence  of  the striving. However, it may be argued that in the hierarchical model  we  seem  to  be  defining  achievement  goals  as  discrete   goals   based   on   a   definition   of   competence   and achievement strategies aimed at fulfilling some particular objective.  In  the  hierarchical  model,  goals  are  midlevel constructs that mediate the effects of a host of individual differences  (e.g.,  achievement  motives,  self-perceptions, relational  variables,  demographic  characteristics,  neurophysiologic  predispositions)  and  situational  factors  (e.g., norm-based  evaluation)  on  specific  motivated  behaviors and  serve  as  proximal  predictors  of  achievement-related processes and outcomes (Elliot, 1999). But it is the appetitive (approach) and aversive (avoidance) valence of competence striving that energizes the motivational process. It is assumed that the goals are the manifestation of needs, or at least  the  “motivational  surrogates,”  as  Elliot  and  Church (1997)   state   of   the   needs   of   achievement   motivation (approach)  and  the  fear  of  failure  (avoidance;  Kaplan  & Maehr, 2002). This suggests that achievement goals represent   approaches   to   self-regulation   based   on   satisfying approach and avoidance needs that are evoked by situational cues. Achievement goals arise from affect-based objectives, at least in part, in the hierarchical model.

In  traditional  achievement  goal  theory,  it  is  the  goals themselves  that  are  the  critical  determinants  of  achievement  cognition,  affect,  and  behavior.  It  is  the  goals  that give   meaning   to   the   investment   of   personal   resources because they reflect the purposes underlying achievement actions  in  achievement  contexts.  Once  endorsed,  the  goal defines  an  integrated  pattern  of  beliefs,  attributions,  and affect that underlie approach and avoidance strategies, different levels of engagement, and the different responses to achievement  outcomes  (Duda  &  Hall,  2001;  Kaplan  & Maehr, 2002). The way an individual interprets his or her performance can be understood in terms of what an individual considers to be important in a particular context and his or her beliefs about what it takes to be successful in that situation. Achievement goals refer to achievement-oriented or  achievement-directed  behavior  where  success  is  the goal. Nicholls (1989) argued that these beliefs and perceptions form a personal theory of achievement in the activity that drives the motivation process, and that a conceptually coherent  pattern  of  relationships  should  therefore  existbetween an individual’s achievement goals (the subjective meaning of success) and his or her achievement striving. In the  achievement  goal  approach,  it  is  not  how  one  defines competence   with   its   attendant   valence;   it   is   how   one defines success and the meaning of developing or demonstrating competence. Thus, the hierarchical approach presents   energizing   constructs   that   are   different.   The conceptual argument is whether we need “needs” to explain the  energization  of  the  motivational  equation,  or  whether we can accept a cognitive theory of motivation that focuses  on  thoughts  and  perceptions  as  energizing  motivated behavior (Maehr, 1987). We need more empirical investigation  of  the  conceptual  energizing  constructs,  and  their roles, underlying achievement striving in achievement contexts to better understand the motivational equation.

One other conceptual difference has emerged from the development  of  measures  for  the  hierarchical  model  of goals, especially of the 2 × 2 model in sport. Duda (2005) has argued that because the interrelationships between the performance-approach,   mastery-avoidance,   and   performance-avoidance  goals  is  low  to  moderate  (e.g.,  Conroy et  al.,  2003),  and  only  the  mastery-approach  and  performance-avoidance  goals  have  demonstrated  independence, this   creates   conceptual   problems   for   the   hierarchical approach.  How  does  this  relate  to  the  evidence  that  task and ego goals have been demonstrated to be orthogonal in the dichotomous achievement goal approach, at least from the   Maehr   and   Nicholls   approaches   (e.g.,   Maehr   & Braskamp,   1986;   Maehr   &   Nicholls,   1980;   Nicholls, 1989)?  More  research  is  clearly  needed  to  explore  this issue as proponents of the 2 × 2 model argue that limited positive  correlations  should  be  expected  between  goals that share either a definition of competence or a valence. However,  this  raises  interesting  questions:  What  are  the expected  relationships  between  the  goals?  Should  they demonstrate  greater  independence  to  be  recognized  as extending the range of goals?

In addition, there is evidence that the hierarchical model may  have  different  assumptions  underlying  performance approach and avoidance goals. Performance-approach tendencies may be based on demonstrating normative ability and  defining  competence  in  normative  terms,  but  recent research has suggested that performance-avoidance may be based  on  one  of  three  facets:  impression  management,  or “saving face” (Skaalvik, 1997; Skaalvik & Valas, 1994); a fear of failure (Elliot & Church, 1997); or a focus on avoiding   demonstrating   low   ability   (Middleton   &   Midgley, 1997).  In  an  interesting  study  investigating  the  measurement technology underlying the hierarchical model, Smith, Duda, Allen, and Hall (2002) wished to determine whether the different measures used were measuring the same constructs. They found that impression management (Skaalvik,1997) explained the most variance (40%), with fear of failure  (Elliot  &  Church,  1997)  and  avoiding  demonstrating low  ability  (Middleton  &  Midgley,  1997)  explaining  only 9.4% and 8% of the variance, respectively. It would seem important  for  future  research  to  clarify  the  conceptual underpinnings  of  performance-avoidance:  What  parts  are played by fearing failure, avoiding demonstrating low ability, and protecting self-worth? Given the findings of Smith and  colleagues,  perhaps  it  is  more  important  to  performance-avoiding  people  to  protect  self-esteem  rather  than be motivated to avoid failing. What is the role the protection of self-worth plays? When individuals begin to question their ability to present a positive sense of self, are they more likely to favor avoidance strategies?

Similar arguments may be made for mastery-avoidance goals. These goals involve focusing on not making mistakes or not doing worse than a previous performance. They combine a desirable definition of competence with an undesirable focus on avoiding incompetence. It must be confessed that  little  is  known  of  these  goals  as  yet.  With  the  traditional achievement goal approach, it is conceptually inconsistent to have a mastery or task-involved goal with a focus on  avoiding  appearing  incompetent.  Traditional  achievement goal theory argues that because dispositional orientations are assumed to be orthogonal, the individual may also have  an  ego-involving  orientation,  and  it  is  this  that  may affect  whether  the  individual  is  also  concerned  with  the demonstration  of  incompetence.  It  may  be  that  mastery avoidance individuals have both ego and task goals; when the  context  is  perceived  to  evoke  ego-involving  criteria, they may wish to avoid demonstrating incompetence. However, this needs to be investigated empirically; only when we have data informing theory will we be able to determine the energizing mechanisms behind achievement striving.

This  brings  us  to  a  further  point  of  conceptual  departure between the two approaches: In achievement goal theory,  the  orientations  are  considered  orthogonal;  that  is, one  can  have  both  orientations  to  one  degree  or  another. For   example,   Duda   (1988)   examined   the   relationship between achievement goals and specific motivated behaviors such as persistence and behavioral intensity. Participants  were  classified  into  four  groups,  and  the  findings showed  that  being  high  in  task  orientation  (regardless  of ego  orientation)  meant  the  participants  persisted  longer and devoted more time to practice. Similar findings were found  by  Walling  and  Duda  (1995).  High-task-oriented students were significantly more likely to believe that success  is  achieved  through  intrinsic  interest  in  the  activity, cooperation,  and  high  effort,  and  the  high-task/low-ego students were the least likely to believe that success stems from  learning  to  skillfully  deceive  the  teacher.  Roberts et  al.  (1996)  found  that  the  high-task  groups  attributed success  to  effort  more  than  did  low-task  groups.  In  contrast,  high-ego  groups  attributed  success  to  ability  more than  did  low-ego  groups.  Even  elite  Olympic  athletes, those we would expect to exhibit high ego involvement and to  succeed  with  such  a  profile  (Hardy,  1997),  seem  to function  better  when  high  ego  involvement  is  tempered with  high  task  involvement  (e.g.,  Pensgaard  &  Roberts, 2002, 2003). This was also true of young elite soccer players (Lemyre et al., 2002).

Being both task and ego-oriented is conceptually coherent with achievement goal theory. It may well be that being high  in  both  task  and  ego  involvement  is  valuable  in  the learning  process  because  it  provides  multiple  sources  of competence  information  to  the  athlete.  Swain  and  Hardwood  (1996)  have  suggested  that  an  individual  with  both goal  orientations  cannot  fail  to  be  satisfied.  They  argue that when one goal is not attained, the second goal can be achieved. Duda (1988) asserted a similar notion and states that  persistence  may  be  increased  with  both  orientations because a person has two sources of determining success. For  an  athlete,  being  both  task and  ego-involved  in  an activity is both intuitively plausible and conceptually consistent with achievement goal theory. Thus, an athlete may be   very   ego-involved   in   a   sport   when   competing,   but become very task-involved when training in the same sport. Further, an athlete may be ego-involved in competition, but then when the outcome is certain, or for some other reason, become task-involved before the game or event is completed.  We  must  not  forget  that  task  and  ego  involvement  are dynamic constructs and subject to ebb and flow as the athlete plays the game or continues with the activity (Roberts, 1992, 2001). It is not whether an individual should be either task or ego-involved, but rather when being task-involved or ego-involved is appropriate. This shift of involvement is an important issue to investigate, as it may reflect on intervention strategies for enhancing motivation.

The Future Of Achievement Goals

We have discussed the nature of achievement goals as being situated  within  situation  and  self-cognitive  schemas,  the traditional  achievement  goal  approach,  or  being  situated within  affect-based  incentives  (at  least  partially)  in  the hierarchical model. However, achievement goals have been based in other constructs, too.

One  approach  has  been  to  use  the  concept  of  value, where   goal   orientations   emerge   from   the   value-laden attractiveness of an achievement context. Values are directed at desirable end states of behavior, and goals are seen as objectives  (Bandura,  1986;  Eccles  &  Harold,  1991;  Ford, 1992; Kaplan & Maehr, 2002). As an example, Eccles and her colleagues (Eccles & Harold, 1991; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992)  suggest  that  achievement  goals  emerge  from  values and expectancies. Thus, mastery goals emerge from intrinsic task values and a belief in one’s competence to do the task,  whereas  performance  goals  emerge  from  the  utility value  of  the  task  for  success  in  an  important  domain  and the expectancy of outperforming others. The research into task value and achievement goals is promising and increasing   in   sport   (Wiess   &   Ferrer-Caja,   2002),   but   more research  is  needed  to  develop  the  conceptual  base  of  the approach in physical activity.

Goals  have  also  been  seen  as  “self-primes,”  a  form  of heightened   self-awareness   (Kaplan   &   Maehr,   2002). Nicholls   (1984)   has   suggested   that   heightened   self-awareness  could  make  thoughts  of  competence  salient. What is an ego goal (or performance-approach and performance-avoidance  goals)  may  well  represent  a  heightened awareness of the self as the person may focus on what he or  she  can  do.  However,  heightened  self-awareness  may also  affect  other  thoughts  about  oneself.  Self-awareness certainly may affect ego or performance goals, especially in terms of approach and avoidance goals. It is interesting that   the   research   into   self-awareness   is   meaningful   to achievement goal theory and may propose a fruitful line of inquiry.   However,   more   conceptual   clarification   and research is needed, especially in the mastery/task achievement goal.

There are other metaphors that may guide the development of achievement goals. It will be the business of future research  to  attempt  to  combine  the  various  perspectives into a parsimonious explanation of how contexts and individual differences forge achievement goals.

The  foregoing  reflects  one  major  trend  in  achievement goal  research:  the  attempt  to  converge  achievement  goals into a larger, more parsimonious framework. As discussed earlier,  Elliot  and  colleagues  (e.g.,  2005)  have  integrated achievement goal theory with more traditional concepts of achievement needs. Kaplan and Maehr (2002) have argued for  more  general  processes  of  meaning  construction  that involve  the  self  and  the  context  in  a  broader  framework. This  trend  is  welcome,  as  the  development  of  specific achievement goals should be based on a sound conceptual framework.

Still other achievement goals have been identified. Initially  pursued  (e.g.,  Maehr  &  Braskamp,  1986),  they  fell into disuse as the parsimony of the dichotomous interpretation  was  demonstrated  over  time.  One  early  goal  was termed  a  social  goal,  referring  to  social  approval  and/or interpersonal  reasons  for  engaging  in  achievement  tasks (e.g.,  Ewing,  1981;  Maehr  &  Nicholls,  1980).  But  little attention has been given to social goals in physical activity in recent times. Another early goal involved extrinsic orientation, where the individual strove to achieve an external criterion of success (e.g., Maehr & Braskamp, 1986). But little  attention  has  been  paid  to  extrinsic  goals,  except within the framework of other motivational conceptualizations  (e.g.,  Deci  &  Ryan,  1985,  2002).  And  qualitative research  has  identified  other  goals  in  addition  to  ego  and task goals (e.g., Dowson & McInerney, 2001). It may well be  that  future  research,  particularly  qualitative  research, may identify and demonstrate how these goals may further our   understanding   of   the   origin   and   development   of achievement goals and their behavioral implications.

This   reflects   a   second   trend   in   achievement   goal research,  that  of  developing  other  achievement  goals.  In particular, there have been arguments in favor of recognizing   different   criteria   of   engagement   in   achievement striving,  and  that  these  have  their  own  patterns  of  consequences.  We  have  discussed  the  approach  and  avoidance arguments of Elliot and colleagues that began this trend, but it has also been suggested that we may be able to bifurcate the  current  mastery  (task)  definitions  of  competence  into separate  categories  for  absolute  (e.g.,  Did  I  perform  this task as well as this task can be performed?) and intrapersonal (e.g., Did I perform this task better than I did previously?)  definitions  of  competence  (Elliot,  1999;  Elliot  & Conroy, 2005; Harwood, Hardy, & Swain, 2000). The same may  be  argued  for  other  goals,  such  as  social  goals  and extrinsic goals, which may also be partitioned into approach and  avoidance  categories  (Dowson  &  McInerney,  2001). Thus, for example, social goals can be categorized as either approach, in that one can demonstrate competence to gain friends (“If I play well, my friends will like me”), or avoidance,  in  that  competence,  or  the  expectation  of  failing  to demonstrate competence, will lead to social castigation (“If I don’t play well, my father shouts at me”). Thus, the trend begun  by  Elliot  continues.  However,  Elliot  and  Conroy (2005)  argue  that  any  expansions  of  the  achievement  goal construct need to relate to existing dimensions of achievement  goals  (i.e.,  definitions  of  competence,  valence  of strivings)  or  provide  a  rationale  for  incorporating  new dimensions of competence. But researchers need to be careful not to add unnecessary complexity to the parsimonious interpretation  of  achievement  goals  without  a  concomitant increase in conceptual integration.


There  are  two  important  conclusions  we  may  draw.  First, performance  goals  (however  they  have  been  defined  and conceptualized)  are  more  likely  to  lead  to  maladaptive achievement  behavior,  especially  when  participants  perceive competence to be low, are concerned with failure, or are  invested  in  protecting  self-worth.  In  such  circumstances, the evidence is quite clear: Motivation ebbs, task investment is low, persistence is low, performance suffers, satisfaction and enjoyment are lower, and participants feel more negatively about themselves and the achievement context.  But  this  does  not  mean  that  ego-oriented  goals  are always  negative;  in  some  situations  for  some  people  they are  positive.  A  performance-approach  goal  (e.g.,  Elliot, 1997)  or  an  ego  (or  performance)  goal  with  high  perception  of  competence  (e.g.,  Pensgaard  &  Roberts,  2002)  is facilitative  of  achievement  and  functions  as  a  motivating construct. But even then, performance (ego) goals are more fragile and can lead to maladaptive achievement striving as context information is processed (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001).

Second, the research is unequivocal that task (mastery) goals  are  adaptive.  When  task-involved  participants  perceive  mastery  criteria  in  the  context,  motivation  is  optimized,  participants  are  invested  in  the  task,  they  persist longer,  performance  is  higher,  satisfaction  and  enjoyment are  higher,  and  participants  feel  more  positively  about themselves and the task. Being task-involved has been consistently associated with desirable cognitive and affective responses. The research is now clear that if we wish to optimize  motivation  in  physical  activity  we  ought  to  promote task  involvement.  It  does  not  matter  whether  we  do  it through  enhancing  socialization  experiences  so  that  the individual has a task goal orientation and is naturally taskinvolved  (Nicholls,  1989),  or  we  structure  the  physical activity context to be more task-involving (e.g., Treasure & Roberts, 1995, 2001). The evidence has led many sport psychologists to conclude that task involvement better enables learners  to  manage  motivation  in  the  sport  experience. Consequently, they have urged those involved in pedagogy to  promote  task  involvement  as  well  as  develop  masteryoriented  environments  to  facilitate  effective  motivational patterns for all participants, even if the individuals are high in ego orientation (e.g., Brunel, 2000; Duda, 1992; Hall & Kerr,  1997;  Pensgaard  &  Roberts,  2002;  Roberts,  2001; Roberts  et  al.,  1997;  Theeboom  et  al.,  1995;  Treasure  & Roberts, 1995).

However, an important assumption of achievement goal theory from the Nicholls perspective is that the goals are orthogonal; that is, being task or ego-involved is independent, which means that one can be high or low in each or in both  orientations  at  the  same  time.  The  findings  of  the research discussed here suggest that rather than depressing a high-ego state of involvement and replacing it with a high-task state of involvement, as has been advocated by many researchers, we should concentrate on enhancing the task-involved state. This finding suggests that we do not have to explicitly depress ego involvement to maintain motivation; rather, we should enhance task involvement to moderate the potentially   debilitating   effects   of   a   high-ego   state   of involvement.

It may well be that always fostering task-involving criteria may not satisfy all individuals in the sport experience, especially elite athletes (Hardy, 1997). It may well be that athletes  at  all  levels  of  competition  would  benefit  from being  both  task and  ego-involved.  Being  both  task and ego-involved  is  conceptually  coherent  with  achievement goal  theory  and  may  be  valuable  in  the  learning  process because it provides multiple sources of competence information to the athlete. Encouraging individuals to be task-involved  in  achievement  tasks  has  been  demonstrated  to optimize motivation, even with elite athletes, but we need not be blind to the fact that some athletes do favor and are motivated by ego-involving criteria. The task for the investigator  and  the  practitioner  is  to  determine  when  task or ego-involving  criteria  of  success  and  failure  are  motivational. Only further research will verify this hypothesis.

As is clear from the foregoing, it may be concluded that where achievement goals come from, how they are operationalized, and how they are measured are areas with rich research  traditions.  We  may  ask:  What  are  the  key  constructs  underlying  the  motivational  equation?  Of  all  the motivational paradigms that are extant, which of the constructs  is  central  to  understanding  motivation?  As  Duda and Hall (2001) have suggested, perhaps it is time to begin to  seriously  attempt  to  integrate  some  key  constructs  and untangle the motivation puzzle, as we and some others have attempted (e.g., Kaplan & Maehr, 2002). Are achievement goals  the  manifestation  of  needs,  values,  the  valence  of outcomes, or cognitive schemas driving how one sees one’s world and responds to the environmental cues with achievement  striving?  What  gives  meaning  to  achievement  striving? In sport and physical activity, we need to address these questions  and  expand  our  conceptual  understanding  of motivational  processes  and  achievement  behaviors  so  that we  can  intervene  effectively  to  enhance  motivation  and make the sport and physical activity context enjoyable and satisfying for all.


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