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									 ATTRIBUTION THEORY

 “The importance of giving appropriate reasons for success or
failure in Sport”

• Why did you win/loose recent games?
• What reasons did you give?
• What did your coach say it occured?


• If we can feel good about reasons for success OR if we can blame
something else for losing – we should continue to try in the future.

• Attributions are important:


• Because they affect motivation, which in turn affects future
performances, future effort and whether the individual will continue to
participate
• Young person told they failed because they do not have enough
 ability to suceed = unlikely to try again

• If they are told they “need to try harder” = more likely to continue


Attribution Training

• Attribution theory is important in sport because it affects future effort


• If we think that reasons for success are stable and we are
 accountable for them, we will have the confidence and continue to
 improve.

• If you believe that reasons for failure are changeable, you can
 change the future results and influence the performance
ATTRIBUTION – THE THEORY

 ATTRIBUTION (“REASONS”) THEORY

 Attribution theory is concerned with the reasons (attributions)
 performers give to their success or failure

 Weiner suggested that high achievers and low achievers
 attribute success and failure to different reasons

 To become a high achiever the performer must think like a high
 achiever – they must make attributions like a high achiever

 Weiners 4 Attributions:
                                  Ability
                                  Effort
                                  Luck
                                  Task Difficulty
• The 4 attributions can be placed along 2 dimensions


• Locus of Causality
• Stability


 Locus of Causality:
 Whether the performance outcome could be caused by factors under
 the control of the performer (internal factors of effort and ability)

 OR

 Caused by factors beyond the control of the performer (external
 factors of task difficulty and luck)


 Copy diagram p.174
The Locus of Stability
• Stability:


• Whether the performance outcome is fixed and unchanging OR can
 vary over time.

• Ability and Task difficulty are STABLE and FIXED during the period
 of performance.

• Effort and luck may change (UNSTABLE) from performance to
 performance OR within a performance

• High Achievers:        attribute success to INTERNAL factors
                                   failure to EXTERNAL factors

• Low Achievers:         attribute success to EXTERNAL factors
                                    failure to STABLE factors
SELF –SERVING BIAS



“The tendency of performers to attribute success to themselves”

Therefore these will be INTERNAL reasons

ALSO:
Reasons for failure might be attributed to external/changeable reasons

EG:
“It was the referee’s fault we lost”

This demonstrates a tendency to protect one’s ‘self esteem’
Learned Helplessness

• Redefine success where ability is the reason for failure


• Acknowledge the need to change attributions (attribution retraining) to
 those appropriate to high achievers

• If the performer is a low achiever, learn how to attribute success and
 failure to the same reasons given by high achievers

• Be aware that low achievers often suffer from Learned Helplessness


• L.H is the problem caused by continually attributing failure to
 INTERNAL reasons that can not be changed (Dweck 1978)

• Failure is blamed on lack of ability and is out of your own control
 because you will never be able to change the situation
Learned Helplessness …Cont
• Performers with LH think that:
 - Failure is inevitable
 - What they do makes little difference to the outcome
 - Success might be due to luck and not repeatable

• LH can be ‘global’ or ‘specific’


• LH can be based on:
 - Lack of success
 - Low confidence
 - A bad experience

• In order to control LH, a change in the attribution process must take
 place – this is known as “Attribution retraining”

“Mastery Orientation” is the opposite to LH. An athlete has
 confidence, they feel in control, have a history of success
Attribution Retraining – A reassessment of the reasons for failure


• We must promote the changeable and external reasons:
• The coach might:


 change in tactics or blame equipment
 adopt a positive approach
 make the reasons for losing less personal
 avoid citing lack of ability as a reason for failure
 use positive feedback and positive reinforcement
 encourage a change of technique
 attribute success internally (effort/ability) and failure externally
 (luck/task difficulty)
• ATTRIBUTION THEORY AND ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION
• – What can it be used for?

• A coach should try to make the performer:

• Attribute success to internal factors in order to maximize confidence
 and satisfaction

• Attribute success to stable factors in order to maximize the
 expectation of future success

• Attribute failure to external factors in order to minimize negative
 feelings

• Attribute failure to unstable factors in order to minimize the
 expectations of future losses. Be careful when attributing failure to
 lack of effort if the performer has tried their hardest.
Attribution Theory and Achievement Motivation

• ATTRIBUTION – The Main Points:


• Individuals often make INTERNAL attributions for success and
 EXTERNAL attributions for failure

• As performers we like to feel “responsible for success” but that “failure
 was due to factors beyond our control”

• Stability is usually related to future expectations. If we attribute
 success or failure to stable factors – next time we compete we will
 expect the same result.

• High and low achievers attribute success and failure to different
 factors
January 2008
Jan 08

								
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