An experimental test of self-theories of ability in youth sport


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Abstract

Objectives:The purpose of this study was to examine causal links between implicit beliefs about sport ability and situational achievement goals among 123 secondary school students (54 males, 69 females; mean age=13.40 years, SD=1.18) from one school in the English Midlands. Cognitive, affective, and behavioural indicators were assessed to test for differences between two experimental groups (entity-induced and incremental-induced beliefs) and a control group in the face of achievement setbacks.Method:Field experiment.Results:Support was found for a causal link between sport ability beliefs and achievement goals both before and after failure on a sport task. Ability attributions for failure were stronger for entity theorists but there were no differences between groups on affective reactions and willingness to participate in a future training programme, probably due to high incremental beliefs in all participants.Conclusion:Discussion centres on the links between entity and incremental beliefs, achievement goals and motivational outcomes in youth sport. Moreover, implications for future studies that seek to manipulate individuals' sport ability beliefs are examined.

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