The contribution of goal characteristics and causal attributions to emotional experience in youth sport participants
Graham, Thomas Richard
This project examined the relationship between causal attributions (Weiner, 1986) and goal characteristics (Lazarus, 1991) in an effort to better understand emotion in youth sport participants. Specifically, the research attempted to determine if attributions and goal characteristics (goal importance and goal discrepancy) made direct contributions or combined in an interactive fashion (moderator model) to predict emotion. A multi-study approach was used. First, it was necessary to develop a valid goal importance scale (GIS). A preliminary GIS was developed and then. evaluated in a study with 198 youth soccer players. Factor analysis produced a unidimensional five item scale with good reliability (á =.86). The GIS correlated with a goal commitment scale ('r' =.67), task value ('r' =.80) and task importance ('r' =.80). A second study, with 102 soccer players before a Leger fitness test, replicated the findings of the first study. A second research objective was to assess the Revised Causal Dimension Scale (CDSII), which was used to assess causal attributions. The CDSII was completed by 188 soccer players following competition. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the CDSII provided a good fit to the data (GFI =.93, CFI =.92). There were concerns with the low internal consistency of the stability subscale (á =.58) and the high correlation between locus of causality and personal control factors ('r' =.91). The primary research objective was to test the direct effects and moderator models for attributions and goal characteristics in predicting discrete positive and negative emotions. One study included 132 soccer players who completed measures of attributions, goal importance, objective goal discrepancy and five emotions in conjunction with a Leger fitness test. Hierarchical regression analysis found both attributions (R2 =.045 to.186) and goal characteristics (R2 =.053 to.082) were significant predictors. Results supported only the direct effects model. A second study, with 174 swimming and track and field athletes during actual competition, repeated the previous study except that subjective goal discrepancy was also measured. The results showed attributions (R 2 =.047 to.087) and goal characteristics (R2 =.286 to.411) predicted significant variance in positive emotions. For negative emotions, only subjective goal discrepancy was a significant predictor. The direct effects model was supported. No interactions were found to support the moderator model. Overall, the research indicates that goal discrepancy as well as causal attributions make direct contributions in predicting emotions in adolescent athletes.