Article Review: Performance in Sports Attribution Theory

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[. . .] There were no robust findings that suggested strong relationship between attribution and emotion. Causal dimensions and goal characteristics predicted emotional experience. That data supported direct effects model and not moderator model. Main predictor of emotion was not consistent throughout the first and second study. There are instances when causal dimensions can assume a secondary role in prediction of emotion. Goal importance despite of being a moderate predictor of joviality and self-assurance could not be used to predict negative emotions. The study established some relationship between goal importance and goal discrepancy with regard to prediction of sadness (Graham, Kowalski & Crocker, 2002). The study's finding that objective and subjective measures of outcome lead to different interpretations is consistent with the findings of the previous studies that indicated that subjective performance accounts for majority of variance in general and individual emotions. Difficulty in measuring discrete emotions in sport is the reason behind the lack of support in the link between causal dimensions and discrete dimensions (Graham, Kowalski & Crocker, 2002).

There are reasons that are advanced to explain dimensional structures in attribution research. Reasons are always categorized into dimensions one can better understand. Explanation can be assigned to the principal attribution dimensions locus of causality, stability, and controllability. Rees (2006) examined the main and interactive effects of attribution dimensions on efficacy expectations in sports and established that the principal predictor of efficacy expectations were stability and personal control. However, stability and personal control differed after more or less successful performances when attributions to stability and personal control are associated with main effects upon efficacy expectations. The research established that there was no significant main effect for locus of causality or external control upon efficacy expectations. However, there was some significant interaction between of locus of causality and stability upon efficacy expectations. When attributions to less successful performances were external there was no difference in efficacy expectations when attributions were stable or unstable. With internal attributions and stable attributions, you can always be assured of higher efficacy expectations. Attributes that athletes classify as internal in locus can also be thought of being under personal control. This underscores why personal control and locus of causality cannot provide unique information about causal attributions. Locus of causality dimensions may therefore have less psychological significance for sport psychology than controllability. Because this studies internal consistency for the stability dimension was low caution should be taken when drawing conclusions about stability dimension in this condition.

The study by Peterson (1980) revealed that players and coaches of teams attributed their defeats late in the season to internal factors a finding that covariation hypothesis can only justify in unsuccessful teams. This calls for additional explanation for mediocre and successful teams. To accept responsibility for past events one must have control over future events. Complexities involved in empirical demonstrations of the use of covariation information should be taken as a cautionary measure because it can only mediate causal attributions in conjunction with other motivational factors like self aggrandizement. The results in this study were influenced by a number of factors including lack of control over which players and coaches to be questioned, accuracy of quotes, and editors' role in creating the data.

Aldridge & Islam (2012) while studying self-serving biases in attribution among the Japanese and Australian athletes hypothesized that Australians as opposed to Japanese athletes showed self-serving biases that made them attribute wins to causes more internal and controllable than the causes to which they attributed losses. These predictions never sufficed because self-serving biases were exhibited by athletes of both nationalities. Australian and Japanese athletes attributed wins and losses to cause that did not differ significantly in terms of locus. The Japanese and Australian athletes attributed wins to causes that were more controllable than to the causes to which losses were attributed. The findings of this duo are inconsistent with previous researches that had suggested that Japanese athletes do not show self-serving biases in attribution. These differences must have been occasioned by differences in methodology, context, and participants. The study focused on attributions spontaneously offered for sporting performance in the natural context of the elite Olympics. The study also used open ended paradigm. It also considered controllability as opposed to traditional models that focus on locus.

Zaccaro, Peterson & Walker (1987) while comparing self-serving attributions made by individuals acting alone with those acting in group establish that lone performers make more self-serving attributions than those who perform in teams. As a player's becomes more independent, they make fewer self-attributions and more internal attributions to realize successful outcomes (Bradley, 1978). Self-enhancement that comes about because of internalizing of success or externalizing failures is less intense in group members than lone performers. The research findings in no way suggest that esteem enhancement processes are only operative through member internal attributions. When group is included as an entity in internal attributions, success is normally attributed internally. An attribution of success to group factors enhances the value of social categorizations and social identity to a member of a group thus enhancing cohesiveness of a group. This raises the capacity of the group in subsequent performances. Self-serving biases can also be attributed to failure to internal factors especially when they are not perceived to be stable or unchanging over time.

Le Foll, Rascle & Higgins (2008) undertook to investigate the influence of functional and dysfunctional attributional feedback on causal attributions established that attributional feed-induced changes related to the feedback. Functional attributional feedback resulted into improvements in causal attributions about failure. However, dysfunctional attributional feedback resulted into deterioration in causal attributions about failure and lower success expectations. The EUS feedback had stronger impact on cognitions, affects, and behavior because people tend to pay more attention to EUS feedback than ICU feedback. In fact, evidences exist that suggest that people pay greater attention to negative information than to positive information. Another reason lies in differential impact of EUS and ICU feedback.

References List

Aldridge, L.J. & Islam, M.R. (2011). Cultural Differences in Athlete Attributions for Success

and Failure: The Sports Pages Revisited. International Journal of Psychology, 47(1), 67-75.

Allen, M.S., Jones, M.V., & Sheffield, D., (2009). Attribution, Emotion, and Collective Efficacy

in Sports Teams. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 13(3), 205-217.

Bradley, G.W. (1978). Self-Serving Biases in the Attribution Process: A Reexamination of the Fact or Fiction Question. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 56-71.

Graham, T.R., Kowalski, K.C., & Crocker, P.R.E. (2002). The Contributions of Goal

Characteristics and Causal Attributions to Emotional Experience in Youth Sport

Participants. Psychology of Sports and Exercise, 3, 273-291.

Grove, J.R. & Prapavessis, H., (95). The Effect of Skilled Level and Sport Outcomes on Dimensional Aspects of Causal Attributions. Australian Psychologist, 30(2), 92-95.

Lau, R.R., & Russell, D. (1980). Attributions in the sports pages. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 29-38.

Le Foll, D., Rascle, O., & Higgins, N.C. (2008). Attributional Feedback-Induced Changes in Functional and Dysfunctional Attributions, Expectations of Success, Hopefulness, and Short-term Persistence in a Novel Sport. Psychology of Sports and Exercise, 9, 77-101.

Peterson, C. (1980). Attributions in the Sports Pages: An Archival Investigation of the Covariation Hypothesis. Social Psychology Quarterly, 43(1), 136-140.

Rees, T. (2007). Main and Interactive Effects of Attribution Dimensions on Efficacy

Expectations in Sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25(4), 473-480.

Russell, D. & McCauley, E. (1986). Causal Attributions, Causal Dimensions, and Effective

Reactions to Success and Failure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(6),


Weiner, B. (1985). An… [END OF PREVIEW]

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