Attributions for Success and or Failure in Sport Performance Article Review

Excerpt from Article Review :

Performance in Sports

Attribution theory posits that ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck are the major attributional factors that cause success and failure in sport. Effort is considered an internal factor while task difficulty is considered an external factor. Ability is considered a permanent factor while luck is a changeable factor. The reformulated learned helplessness model sought to come up with the most relevant causal dimensions. The model suggests that the specificity of attributions combines with causal internality and stability to influence emotions and behavior. The model avers that global factors influence events like laziness while specific factors influence particular events like temporary fatigue. Adaptive reactions, according to helplessness theory, are occasioned by negative outcomes that are attributed to external, unstable, and specific factors. Adaptive reactions can also be facilitated when positive outcomes are attributed to internal, stable, and global factors. Outcomes that suggest that an athlete has high ability have been attributed to internal factors more than the outcomes that do not imply high ability. Athletes perceived to be having high ability make more internal, stable, and controllable attributions than athletes with low perceived ability. Grove & Prapavessis (1995) posit that negative emotional and motivational reactions are minimized when unsuccessful outcomes are attributed to internal, stable, and global causes. The duo, in their study of squash players, found out that the players' attributions were consistent with helplessness theory regarding the stability and globality dimensions. However, there were inconsistencies with helplessness theory with regard to internality dimensions. The causes attributed to competitive failure were significantly less stable and global than those cited for competitive success. The causes were nevertheless strongly internal regardless of the outcome. The findings of this study were consistent with those of other studies where unexpected results have been found regarding self-serving bias. Sports scientists have thus far failed in their bid to document self-serving bias. These inconsistent findings have largely been attributed to situational norms in sport because they discourage externalization of failure hence undermine the classic self-serving bias. High ability players have a thing for internalizing success more than failure something that low ability players tend not to engage in. high ability players also make more stable attributions more than low ability players regardless of the outcomes. Grove & Prapavessis (1995) are convinced that ability levels cannot influence causal attributions for sport outcomes. However, they are unanimous that strong manipulation of the ability factor can be used to detect this effect. Helplessness theory provided an adequate frame of reference for the duo's finding especially with regard to causal stability and globality that varied as a function of competitive outcomes. It henceforth reflected adaptive orientation consistent with reformulated helplessness model. The use if internal attributions, even after failure, were inconsistent with helplessness theory.

Allen, Jones & Sheffield (2009) while investigating the effect of team-referent attributions on emotions and collective efficacy established that collective efficacy and emotions are important determinants of performance accomplishments in group achievement. Teams that have established that victory is residing within them strongly believe that they have conjoint capabilities. Perception of team control combined with perception of stability show variation in collective efficacy in winning and losing teams. When cause of team defeat is thought of as being under control of others, the stability of the cause is unimportant for collective efficacy beliefs. When the cause is perceived to be under control of others a stable attribution can be detrimental to collective efficacy. This finding provides a logical representation of how interactive effects of attribution dimensions operate in competitive groups. When match officials are thought to be behind team defeat, the recurrence of the failure should not logically affect beliefs about the team's capability. However, the action of match official can influence the likelihood of attaining future team success. A stable attribution for team defeat cannot impair collective efficacy. Higher levels of collective efficacy for wining teams are associated with attributions perceived as stable over time and under the control of the team. This is a departure from the previous findings of research on self-efficacy where interaction effects of stability and control are not associated with self-efficacy beliefs of successful athletes. Allen & Jones (2009) suggest that interventions that target collective efficacy should integrate interactive effects of stability and control attributions. According to this study, there are no strong associations between team attribution and emotional responses. It is only happiness that had significant relationship team controllable attributions that were associated with higher levels of happiness. This finding was consistent with previous attribution researches and achievement model. The team members under study experienced more happiness when team victory was a direct result of the factors the team had control over. Association between attributions and discrete emotions can be attributed to direct applicability of conceptual models of person attributions to team settings. Attribution of team defeat to the group cannot necessarily result into negative emotions as responsibility is shared equally among group members. Negative emotions therefore occur when responsibility is put on an individual member of a team. Allen & Jones (2009) have demonstrated that achievement model is not an appropriate framework for investigating attributions and their impact on collective efficacy and emotions in group achievement settings because the attributions were not strongly associated with emotions despite the fact that happiness showed a positive linear relationship with perceptions of team control. Interventions that target perceptions of team control and stability can be a useful way to increase levels of happiness and beliefs about team capability.

According to Russell & McCauley (1986) attributions can minimize the experience of certain effective reactions to success and failure. Causal attributions can elicit and suppress the experience of certain effective states. This is shown in the research where feelings of gratitude following success were maximized when outcome was attributed to luck or others' actions (Lau & Russell, 1980). The duo's findings were not consistent the previous findings in that none of the attributions for success were significant predictors of effective reactions. The relations between task difficulty attributions for failure and feelings of anger and guilt were also not consistent with the findings from the previous study. Differences in findings might have arisen because causal attributions are not important determinants of effective reactions in actual achievement settings. In circumstances when subjects are compelled to focus on causal explanations for an outcome causal attributions determine effective reactions. In study 1 Russell & McCauley (1986) established that causal dimensions were significant predictors of all success and failure effects. Locus of causality was the most important dimension in individual causal dimensions. Other dimensions like stability and controllability predicted some of the effects. Study 2 revealed that the relations between causal dimensions and effective reactions are not that meaningful especially when tested in the context of an actual achievement event. One causal sequence cannot therefore be favored over the other.

Causal ascriptions are the major component of the theory of motivation and emotion Weiner (1985). The theory posits that the perceived causes of success and failure share common properties namely: locus, stability, and controllability. Intentionality and globality are also some of the common properties that the share. Locus, stability, and controllability affect a variety of emotional experiences like anger, gratitude, guilt, hopelessness, pity, pride, and shame. Expectancy and affect motivates behavior. Theory of motivation and emotion relates the structure of thinking to the feeling and action dynamics. Investigations of expectancy change have revealed that aspiration level is dependent on the prior outcome. It has been established that aspiration tends to increase after goal attainment and decreases if prior aspiration has not been fulfilled. Investigations have also revealed that differences in expectancy shifts given skills vs. chance. The stability of a cause therefore determines expectancy shifts. Outcomes experienced in the past are likely to recur if conditions are expected to remain the same. When causal conditions are expected to change the present outcome is not expected to repeat itself. This causes uncertainty on subsequent outcomes because something different is expected to result. Phenotypic dissimilarities connotative or genotypic similarity is the reasons why individuals classify their thoughts into broad categories. Failure in politics because of charisma or failures in math because of low aptitude are phenotypically different events yet they can be categorized as enduring or stable. Failure in athletics due to insufficient practice or failures in math because of temporary illness are diverse events that are attributed to unstable causes. Goal incentives or properties of the goal effect are another class of variables with motivational impact.

Cognitive psychologists are unanimous that emotions are generated through cognitive appraisal where personal and situational variables are evaluated. Appraisal is therefore integral cognitive-emotional theories. Attribution theory advances that an individual's emotion is dependent on the perceived causes for success and failure (Graham, Kowalski & Crocker, 2002). In a bid to determine if goal characteristics can predict emotion in youth sport participants beyond causal dimensions the researchers finally established that there were no theoretical links between specific causal dimensions and individual emotions. Main predictors for each emotion were different from those…

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