Cognitive-Affective Sources of Sport Enjoyment in Adolescent Sport Participants

Article excerpt

Enjoyment is beginning to receive a resurgence of interest in the sport psychology literature. It has been described as a "positive affective response to the sport experience that reflects generalized feelings such as pleasure, liking, and fun" (Scanlan & Simons, 1992, pp. 203-204). These authors propose that uncovering the diverse origins of sport enjoyment is critical to a comprehensive understanding of positive affect and its relation to prolonged sport involvement. Inherent to their model is the proposition that enjoyment underlies greater commitment to sport. Although the construct has received empirical attention in the past, recent developments in the sport motivational literature suggest that contemporary approaches to the study of sport enjoyment be explored.

Enjoyment has generally been discussed with regard to intrinsic motivation. Deci and Ryan (1985) posit that enjoyment is derived from achievement behavior which is intrinsically motivating and provides perceptions of competence and self-determination. Scanlan and Simons (1992) argue, however, that to equate sport enjoyment exclusively to intrinsic motivation fails to acknowledge extrinsic sources. The authors contend that sport enjoyment is a "broader and more inclusive construct" derived from both internal and external origins. Wankel and Kreisel (1985) reported, for example, that although youth sport participants ranked intrinsic factors such as improving skills and personal accomplishment as important to enjoyment, extrinsically oriented factors such as winning and receiving rewards were also found to be important. It is paramount, therefore, that theoretical approaches consider both sources of sport enjoyment.

Research concerning sport enjoyment has yielded consistent findings. Enjoyment or the lack thereof, apparently are primary reasons for participation and dropout, respectively (Gill, Gross, & Huddleston, 1983; Gould, Feltz, Horn, & Weiss, 1982). Sport enjoyment has also been found to be associated with higher degrees of perceived physical competence and challenge, and adult satisfaction with motor performance (Brustad, 1988; Chalip, Csikszentmihalyi, Kleiber, & Larson, 1984; Scanlan & Lewthwaite, 1986; Wankel & Kreisel, 1985). Using qualitative data analysis, Scanlan, Stein, and Ravizza (1989) reported that elite figure skaters identified sources of enjoyment which included social recognition, movement sensation, and athleticism. These findings clearly point to both intrinsic and extrinsic antecedents of enjoyment in sport providing a theoretical framework from which to proceed.

Recent theoretical development in social-cognitive theory highlights the relationship between achievement goal orientation and sport behavior (Duda, 1992). Based on the work of Nicholls (1984, 1989), the paradigm offers an intuitively appealing approach to the study of enjoyment in sport. Task or ego achievement orientation, are said to impact upon the criteria individuals use to construe competence, and also influence subsequent achievement behavior including task choice, persistence, and performance (Nicholls, 1984). A task orientation entails the tendency to focus on mastery and self-improvement. Performing one's best or beyond personal expectations, provide perceptions of competence for those who are task-involved (Nicholls & Miller, 1984). Subjectively derived conceptions of competence apparently are internally grounded for individuals who subscribe to a task orientation. An ego orientation, rather, reflects a tendency to dwell on social comparison of ability and outcome, such as outperforming others on tasks of normative difficulty (Nicholls, 1989). For those who are ego-involved, demonstration of greater ability than others provides competence perceptions especially when greater effort must be exerted by others (Jagacinski & Nicholls, 1987). Perceptions of competence are therefore dependent exclusively upon external standards of performance for those who are ego-oriented. …