Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory George Noorland

Attribution- ‘The perceived reasons for success or failure following an event.’ - Attribution theory tells us how individuals explain their behaviour (in a sporting context, performers use attributions to provide reasons for winning/losing). - Looks at how the reasons given might affect future achievement motivation. The reasons/causes/attributions an individual/team gives for their success or failure can affect: - Immediate emotional reactions. - Actual behaviour. - Future aspirations. - Expectations, motivation and future participation. Possible reasons for Success: Possible reasons for Failure: Learned Helplessness: Strong Helplessness- ‘Feelings experienced by a performer when they feel failure is - Expected to win and will therefore not - - Learneddesire to succeed

2. The stability dimension- describes how fixed the attributions are: • Reducing Learned Helplessness in Performers: period of time, e.g. a season. Stable- remains the same for a relatively long • a. Attributionalchanges may occur from week to week, or within minutes. Unstable- Retraining: - Attributional Retraining- ‘Methods of helping the performer to change the way that they explain the cause of success or failure, they are encouraged to focus on factors that can be controlled.’ - Manipulating dysfunctional attributional thought to help produce functional adaptive ways of attributing. - Aim: reformation of learned helplessness. - Changing negative attributions to positive ones. b. Self-Serving Bias: - Self-serving bias- ‘The process by which individuals are taught to attribute failure to changeable, unstable factors (luck), rather than internal stable factors (ability).’ - Taking credit for success and denying responsibility for failure. - Belief that they typically perform better than the average person in areas important to their self-esteem. Mastery Orientation: c. Promoting Self-Efficacy: - Mastery Orientation- ‘A strong motive to succeed that is found in high achievers. attain - Self-efficacy- ‘The belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to Individuals will expect to succeed in a task but, if not, will show persistence.’ certain goals.’ - Mastery-orientated performers generally attribute success to internal reasons (raises - Optimistic beliefs. - self-efficacy, it allows them to repeatperformance on a task or in a situation. Individual’s belief in their ability and success in the future). - Having high Self-efficacy: and so they will Having low Self-efficacy: participating. There confidence is high, be motivated to continue - TheyArises the characteristics a a N.Ach performer and from thingsif they do not show from experiencing of - Results will persist like: poor succeed. successful performance (e.g. results, criticism from others. - Failure is attributed to external factors (task difficulty/luck); theyconfidence in own be achieving good results, being - = quickly losing then feel failure can overcome if they try harder- energised by setbacks. praised/admired, knowing that ability. - These performers place big emphasis on achievement and winning. effects on you are doing well). - This has detrimental motivation and willingness to persist with challenging tasks (as they are seen as personally threatening and likely to result in a loss of self-

- inevitable because of negative past experiences.’ as hard (lack of motivation) Confidence try - Attribute failure internally to stable reasons (ability). difficulty High motivation (intrinsic) - Task Better level that, regardless of effort, - Lack of to fail and therefore do - - They believe of skill than competition they are destined preparation (training) not - Lack of effort persist. - Other peoples ability (whether on your - General Learned Helplessness- variety/all sports (e.g. negative experiences learning to own swim and so not participating in any water activities). team or on opponents) - Specific Learned Helplessness- Relating to one skill/single sport (e.g. not trying a particular of Attribution: Weiner’s Model area of sport due to negative past experiences). - Learned helplessness usually occurs in those who have low self-confidence due to past Suggested that 4 key attributions lie on 2 dimensions. failings; they withdrew and stopped participating. performer places the reason for 1. The locus of causality- describes where the - Have similar characteristics to NAF performers. winning or losing: - If•attributions remained unchanged, it control. to lead to a sedentary lifestyle because Internal- within the performer’s is likely of low External-self-esteem. sporting under the ‘control’ of the environment. •

Attribution Theory George Noorland

- Individual attention. - Emphasise performance rather than outcome goals. Raise self-efficacy - Highlight previous quality - Monitor performer’s attributions. performances. - Coaches/teachers are positive. - Give positive reinforcement. - Use mental rehearsal. - Avoid social comparisons with others. - Ensure early success. Effect Coaches must be honest and able to change goals in - of Attribution Theory on Healthy Lifestyle: - Low achievers find achievement satisfying = less motivated to continue activity- this has relation to PERSONAL achievement. a HUGE implication when trying to encourage a healthy (active) lifestyle. - Do not want to create negative experiences during exercise or opinions that are unable to improve/gain success because they will not return to the activity in future. - Relates back to ‘performance’ rather than ‘outcome’ goals (e.g. ‘I haven’t lost weight, but I feel less fatigued and could go on for longer’ (mastery, performance goal- good), ‘I haven’t lost any weight’ (outcome goal- not good).

Strategies to Develop Mastery Orientation and avoid Learned Helplessness:

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