Cross-Domain Generality of Achievement Motivation across Sport and the Classroom: The Case of Spanish Adolescents

By Castillo, Isabel; Duda, Joan L. et al. | Adolescence, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Cross-Domain Generality of Achievement Motivation across Sport and the Classroom: The Case of Spanish Adolescents


Castillo, Isabel, Duda, Joan L., Balaguer, Isabel, Tomas, Ines, Adolescence


The achievement goal approach has become one of the most important conceptual avenues to describing and/or explaining motivated behavior (Roberts, 2001). This framework assumes that an individual is an intentional, goal-directed organism that operates in a rational manner and that achievement goals govern achievement beliefs and guide subsequent decision-making and behavior in achievement contexts (such as the classroom and in sport). Achievement goal theory proposes that there are at least two predominant dispositional goals or bases for indexing subjective success and construing competence in achievement situations, such as sport and the educational domain, namely a task and an ego goal orientation (Nicholls, 1989). On the one hand, people with a predominant task orientation tend to judge their ability with respect to personal improvement and hard work. On the other hand, people with a predominant ego-orientation tend to define success using normative criteria, and thus feelings of competence are derived from the demonstration of superior ability over others. Consistent associations have emerged between these dispositional goals and effort, ability and deceptive beliefs about the causes of success in both the sport setting (Castillo, Balaguer, & Duda, 2002; Duda & White, 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998; Newton & Duda, 1993; Newton & Fry, 1998; Van Yperen & Duda, 1999) and the academic setting (Castillo, Balaguer, & Duda, 2001; Duda & Nicholls, 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998; Nicholls, Patashnick, & Nolen, 1985; Nicholls, Cheung, Lauer, & Patashnick, 1989; Nicholls, Coob, Wood, Yackel, & Patashnick, 1990; Thorkildsen, 1988). Task orientation has been found to be positively linked to the belief that effort leads to success and negatively correlated with the view that deceptive strategies are a precursor to achievement. Ego orientation, in contrast, is positively associated with the belief that the possession of ability and the use of deceptive tactics are antecedents to success. According to Nicholls (1989), these different goal-belief dimensions (task and ego goal-belief dimensions) reflect individual differences in people's personal theories of achievement (ego and task theories) in both sport and the classroom.

In general, research in academic and sport settings has supported the view that a task theory establishes the basis for maximal motivation and adaptive behaviors (Duda, 2001).

Studies conducted in the educational and athletic settings (Balaguer, 2002; Castillo et al., 2001, 2002; Duda & Nicholls, 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998) have provided support for the relationship between emerging task and ego goal-belief dimensions (or personal theories) and perceived ability and reported satisfaction with school and sport. Specifically, these studies reported that a task goal-belief dimension was positively linked to greater enjoyment and negatively related to boredom in both the sport (Balaguer, 2002; Castillo et al., 2002; Duda & Nicholls, 1992; Duda et al., 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998) and classroom contexts (Balaguer, 2002; Castillo et al., 2001; Duda & Nicholls, 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998). In contrast, an ego goal-belief dimension was negatively related, or unrelated, to satisfaction with these activities and was positively associated with boredom in both contexts (Castillo et al., 2001; 2002; Duda & Nicholls, 1992; Duda et al., 1992; Guivernau & Duda, 1998).

Although many studies from different countries have examined the relationships between goal-beliefs and perceived ability and satisfaction with school and sport, no studies about cross-domain generality in sport and school have been conducted with Spanish adolescents.

In this study, the objective was to replicate a previous research work whose hypothesis was tested in the American culture (Duda & Nicholls, 1992). Duda and Nicholls (1992) found strong cross-situational generalizability with respect to goals-beliefs, less cross-situational generalizability with respect to perceptions of competence, and no appreciable relationship between reported satisfaction and boredom experienced in sport and school. …

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Cross-Domain Generality of Achievement Motivation across Sport and the Classroom: The Case of Spanish Adolescents
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