Achievement Goal Theory (Nichols, 1989) outlines three factors that affect motivation: goals, perceived ability, and behaviors. The combination of these factors yields two goal orientations that are subsequently used to define success and ability: task orientation and ego orientation. Those with high task orientation are intrinsically motivated (Duda & Ntoumanis, 2003). Those with high ego orientation are extrinsically motivated (Newton & Duda ,1993). Although decades of research has focused on motivational orientations as they relate to perceptions of ability and performance outcomes, there is little research investigating how motivational orientation may affect variability of motor performance during and after competition. The present study explored the relationship between motivational orientation and dynamic measures of motor variability, for performance and learning. The Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ; Duda & Nicholls, 1989) was used to assess individual's levels of task and ego orientation. Participants were placed into four categories: High Task, High Ego; High Task, Low Ego; Low Task, High Ego; and Low Task, Low Ego. Over three days, participants completed 51 trials of isometric force tracking. Day 1 involved 25 practice trials. On day 2, 21 trials were completed while competing with a confederate from the lab. Day 3 consisted of five trials to measure retention. Performance for all groups was not significantly different during competition versus practice; however, retention (learning) was poorer for the high ego, low task group. A non-linear measure (ApEn) quantifying regularity of performance also increased during competition for both groups that reported high ego orientation. The regularity of behavior during competition did not directly predict learning outcomes. Having high task orientation along with high ego orientation allows for better learning despite greater irregularity of performance during competition. Furthermore, the least adaptable motivational profile for learning was high ego paired with low task.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/breanna-studenka/1/