Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Feldman, Solomon E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Motor ability--Psychological aspects


Athletes, as do other people, differ in their responses to failure experiences. These differences would seem to lead to some athletes, even ones of comparable skill levels, being more successful than others. It was hypothesized that differences in performance would occur due to differing attributional styles following lack of success. Attributions were experimentally manipulated by having subjects read card statements following each trial on a dart throwing task. The statements provided consistent attributional styles for each subject throughout the experimental task. Four different experimental groups were used to assess the impacts of the attributions on performance, emotions, motivation, and expectancies. Two internal attribution groups, effort and ability, an external attribution group of task difficulty or luck, and a no attribution group were used. Ability attributions were hypothesized to lead to the most decrements in the measured factors, while effort attributions were expected to lead to improvements. The other two experimental groups were hypothesized to be relatively unaffected. A trial-by-trial analysis of performance was used for purposes of the study so as not to base findings on only overall performance outcomes. While among three of the measured factors, performance, motivation, and expectancies, subjects making effort attributions manifested the highest levels, these levels were not significantly different from the other three experimental groups. The ability attribution group did not experience significant decrements in performance or related measures as predicted in comparison to the other groups. An attempt was made to account for the obtained results in terms of the considerable variability in performance capabilities among the subjects, lack of observed impact of the attributional card statements, and observed independence of trial to trial effects.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [72]-78)


107 pages




Northern Illinois University

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