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Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 2016, Vol. 5, No. 4, 324 –336

© 2016 American Psychological Association 2157-3905/16/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/spy0000075

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Effects of Competitive Environment and Outcome on Achievement Behaviors and Well-Being While Engaged in a Physical Task Michael Reinboth

Joan L. Duda

University College of Southeast Norway

University of Birmingham

Grounded in achievement goal theory (Nicholls, 1989), the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of different aspects of situational achievement goal emphases and competitive outcome on achievement striving (effort and objective performance) and indices of psychological well-being (interest and vitality). Participants were 104 undergraduate students (M age ⫽ 20.38) randomly assigned to 4 experimental contrasts: task or ego-involving goal instructions were crossed with feedback that the participants had won or lost 2 consecutive 8-min cycling trials. Overall, results showed support for the dichotomous achievement goal framework in which under ego involvement, low perceptions of ability have a negative effect on achievement striving and well-being. Keywords: motivational climate, competition, performance attainment, effort, wellbeing

It is proposed that the different social contexts manifested in sporting programs and, in particular, the behavior and interpersonal style of the coach can play a major role in shaping the potential psychological, emotional, and physical effects (positive and negative) on the athletes’ sport involvement (Smith, Smoll, & Cumming, 2007). Therefore, it is important to investigate how that psychological environment corresponds to athletes’ achievement behavior and well-being in the athletic setting. From a practical perspective, such work may enhance the welfare of young athletes by providing a rationale for, and guidelines regarding, the development of coach-focused interventions. Achievement goal theory (AGT) has recently provided a lens through which to view the relation between the social environment and cognition as well as affect and achievement behav-

Michael Reinboth, Department of Sports and Outdoor Life Studies, University College of Southeast Norway; Joan L. Duda, School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Reinboth, Department of Sports and Outdoor Life Studies, University College of Southeast Norway, Gullbringvegen 36, 3800 Bø i Telemark, Norway. E-mail: [email protected]

ior in both the physical and educational domain (Ames, 1992; Dweck, 1999; Roberts, 2012). AGT (Nicholls, 1984, 1989) assumes that the achievement goal of demonstrating ability is the primary motivational stimulus in achievement contexts. Furthermore, the frameworks hold that at least two conceptions of competence are extant, and that these conceptions manifest themselves through two states of involvement: task and ego involvement. When task involved, perceived ability is self-referenced and emphasis is placed on task mastery, the exertion of effort, and the development of one’s skills or knowledge of the activity. When ego involved, individuals are concerned with demonstrating normatively referenced high ability. In this case, ability is demonstrated when one’s performance is perceived to exceed that of others or to be performed equally with less effort. The issue of whether an individual is in a state of task or ego involvement is assumed to depend on situational (i.e., the motivational climate) and dispositional factors (i.e., degree of task and ego orientation; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1989). The motivational climate is assumed to be created by the motivational influence exerted by key social agents, such as the coach. Within sport, a performance (or egoinvolving) and a mastery (or task-involving)

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climate are hypothesized to exist (Ames, 1992; Duda, 2001); sport research has supported this assumption (e.g., Harwood, Keegan, Smith, & Raine, 2015). An ego-involving climate is characterized by interpersonal competition, social comparison, and public evaluation. In contrast, an emphasis placed on task mastery, learning, effort exertion, and improvement distinguishes a task-involving climate (Ames, 1992). According to AGT, a perceived task-involving climate, and task goal orientation, are assumed to correspond to adaptive cognitions, affect, and behaviors. Such positive responses are expected whether the person in question has high or low perceived ability. A perceived ego-involving climate, and ego goal orientation, may be linked to the display of adaptive achievement striving, but only if the individuals in question perceive their ability to be high. If perceptions of ability are low, or if confronted with difficulties, then a maladaptive achievement pattern is predicted. Thus, it is theoretically expected that perceived competence would moderate the relationship of an ego goal emphasis on achievement-related patterns (Nicholls, 1989; Roberts, 2012). Performance, Well-Being, and Competition In their systematic review, Harwood and colleagues (2015) found a positive association between perceptions of a task-involving motivational climate and perceived self-referenced competence as well as a small positive relationship with objective performance. Overall, most work applying AGT in the physical domain has been correlational in nature, and it is rather paradoxical that little research has examined the link between situational goal emphasis and actual objective behavior and performance on physical or sport-related tasks (Duda, 2005; Harwood et al., 2015). In a comprehensive study, Sarrazin, Cury, Roberts, Biddle, and Famose (2002) found that task-involved boys performed better and exerted more effort at a climbing task than ego-involved boys. In addition, ego-involved boys with low perceived ability were the only ones that failed significantly more on the average climbing course. However, the study did not manipulate perceived ability, and it did not involve a direct competition nor a time limit to complete the course.

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When deciding whether ego goals are adaptive or not, it is essential that we do not only examine achievement-related variables (e.g., performance) but also consider indicators of the quality of the experience and individual welfare (Quested & Duda, 2010). In the physical domain, recent research has found perceptions of a task-involving climate to be linked to indices of well-being and quality engagement (e.g., selfesteem, enjoyment), and perceptions of an egoinvolving climate have been linked to indices of ill-being (e.g., experiences of burnout; Adie, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2012; Harwood et al., 2015; Reinboth & Duda, 2004). An intervention study by Hogue, Fry, Fry, and Pressman (2013) found that participants in an ego-involving climate experienced more negative physiological (e.g., greater cortisol responses) and psychological responses (e.g., anxiety) after a 30-min juggling session relative to participants in an taskinvolving climate. The present research sought to test the effect of the motivational climate on indices of mental welfare within a controlled laboratory setting. Since the mid-1990s, many researchers have challenged the traditional two-goal approach advanced by Nicholls (1989). Most notably, researchers who introduced the concept of avoidance goals (e.g., Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996) separated the definition of achievement goals from the definition of success and further split the two goals along the taxonomy approach–avoidance. A recent meta-analysis by Lochbaum and Gottardy (2015) found that performance-approach goals (i.e., outperforming others) seem to benefit performance equal to mastery approach goals (i.e., doing better than one has done before) in sport and physical activity settings. A meta-analytic review by Van Yperen, Blaga, and Postmes (2014) found that in the sport domain (in contrast to education and work) performance-avoidance (i.e., not doing worse than others) and mastery-avoidance goals (i.e., not doing worse than one had done before) were not negatively correlated with performance. Lastly, a meta-analysis by Van Yperen, Blaga, and Postmes (2015) examining the effect of experimentally induced achievement goal state on task performance found approach goals to enhance performance. Moreover, mastery approach goals lead to better performance relative to performance approach goals when participants did not experience time pressure. Overall,

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in line with Senko, Hulleman, and Harackiewicz (2011), it could be argued that these findings are, at least for ego-involved individuals, not really contrary to the original predictions by Nicholls (1984) and (Dweck 1986; Dweck & Leggett, 1988). Indeed, findings by Darnon, Harackiewicz, Butera, Mugny, and Quiamzade (2007) indicate that performance-approach goals become less adaptive when they are associated with uncertainty or negative competence feedback. More research is clearly warranted with regards to whether the more parsimonious dichotomous goal approach, including the proposed moderating effects of perceived ability, can perhaps provide some new insight into the achievement goal and performance relationship in sport settings. To extend the climbing study by Sarrazin et al. (2002) and test the moderating effect of perceptions of ability, the present research created continuous failure or success conditions by manipulating competitive outcome to strengthen or diminish perceptions of ability. The present research was not designed to discriminate between the dichotomous goal approach and avoidance components, nor does it include an approach avoidance dimension. The purpose was rather to investigate the generalization of the interactive effect of perceived ability on the relationship between situational achievement goal emphases and indices of wellbeing and achievement behavior. According to AGT, as well as other motivational frameworks such as self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), competition can have both controlling and informational aspects. The controlling aspect of competition comes into play when one focuses on the activity as something that one must win. It is assumed that such a competitive context is likely to induce ego involvement (Duda, Chi, Newton, Walling, & Catley, 1995; Vallerand, Deci, & Ryan, 1987). However, competition also has informational elements, allowing participants to obtain information about their competence. When there is less focus on outcome and more focus on personally doing well (i.e., task involvement) in a competitive situation, the effects of competition should not lead to the maladaptive achievement behavior associated with ego involvement. In sum, we created two competitive conditions: (a) a competitive environment in which

the ego-involving aspects were made salient and (b) a competitive environment highlighting the task-involving aspects of competition. These conditions were expected to have contrasting effects on achievement behavior (i.e., exerted effort and task performance) and indices of well-being (i.e., subjective vitality, satisfaction, and interest). Second, aligned with the theoretical propositions of Nicholls (1989), we wished to determine the potential moderating effects of perceptions of ability by altering the outcome feedback to examine whether the competitive condition and outcome (win/lose) interact. On the basis of theory and previous research findings (Harwood et al., 2015; Nicholls, 1984, 1989; Sarrazin et al., 2002) the following hypotheses were made: Hypothesis 1: Participants in the taskinvolving competitive condition will exert more effort and perform better and report higher levels of well-being than participants in the ego-involving competitive condition across two competitive trials. Hypothesis 2: We expect a main effect for winning the trials. Participants in the win condition will report higher levels of wellbeing, exerted effort, and perform better than those in the lose condition across two competitive trials. Hypothesis 3: Participants in the egoinvolving competitive condition, who lose both trials, will report less adaptive behavior and well-being compared with those winning the two trials and participants in the task-involving competitive condition regardless of the competitive outcome. No difference in performance and indices of well-being was expected between participants in the task-involving competitive condition regardless of the competitive outcome. Method There were four experimental conditions to which the subjects were randomly assigned: task instructions that highlighted the value of either an ego-involving (outdo others, look competent) or a task-involving (improve, increase competence) goal were crossed with feedback that the participants had won or lost

COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT

two consecutive 8-min cycling ergometer trials. There were two outcomes reflecting participants’ achievement behavior (i.e., self-reported effort and objective cycling performance) and two dependent variables assessing participants’ mental well-being (i.e., intrinsic interest/ satisfaction and subjective vitality).

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Participants One hundred and four (42 females and 62 males) undergraduate students from a large British university (M age ⫽ 20.38 years; SD ⫽ 2.44) volunteered to participate in the study, with some receiving credits in partial fulfilment of a course requirement. The participants were taking part in various university or intramural sports (e.g., football, athletics, rugby, hockey) and, as a whole, were involved in the sport in question (hours of practice per week M ⫽ 6.71 years; SD ⫽ 3.46). All interested participants were phoned to arrange convenient meeting times. Using a structured interview format, information was also garnered regarding participants’ perceived physical fitness levels. Samesex participants, with similar fitness levels, were then recruited in pairs and randomly assigned to one of four conditions. To control for physical fatigue, which in turn may have influenced well-being and performance, participants were requested to not engage in any prior exercise on the day they took part in the experiment. A further inclusion criterion was that participants were or had not been ill (e.g., with flu, a cold) in the last week. Experimental Task and Apparatus The experimental task consisted of two samesex subjects each riding a Lode ergometer exercise bike for two 8-min bouts. This task was chosen because it reflects an effort-based form of physical activity and possesses relatively high external validity when compared with most laboratory tasks. Two computer programs were created specifically for this study using BORLAND C⫹⫹ Builder version 3. One program, which was run on one (designated main) computer, was designed to communicate, manipulate, and record information from the two bikes (i.e., workload, revolutions per minute, time, and distance covered) via serial communications ports. The second program, which was run on two separate computers connected via

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serial ports to the main computer, enabled “true” and manipulated data from the main computer to be displayed on two 17-in. monitors placed in front of each bike. Testing Procedure Participants arrived at the laboratory where they were welcomed by a same-sex experimenter and taken to the testing room. Before starting the experiment, the participants completed an informed consent form and the university ethics subcommittee’s general health screening questionnaire. They were also asked whether they currently experienced any form or sign of illness or physical symptoms. If this was the case, and/or if they had failed any of the inclusion criteria (e.g., the health questionnaire), then the experiment was terminated. If possible, in the case of participants with flu or colds, new meeting times were arranged. After the assessment of participants’ baseline levels of subjective vitality, the subjects’ submaximal VO2max was estimated in accordance with the YMCA cycle ergometer test (for more details about this test, see Golding, Meyers, & Sinning, 1989) using the extrapolation method. No feedback was given regarding the result of the VO2max estimation. Participants then completed a short questionnaire assessing their baseline levels of perceived cycling ability before they were asked to get back on to the bikes for the experimental trials. On the basis of extensive testing of what workload was appropriate for the participants to exert effort (i.e., making it an effort-based task) and being able to complete the two consecutive 8-min trials, the bikes’ workload (bike resistance) was set at 35% of their estimated VO2max. A divider was placed between the participants so that they were only able to observe each other from the shoulders up during the bike trials. Throughout each 8-min competitive trial, monitors (visible to both participants) were placed 1 m in front of each bike, detailing his or her race time and distance covered. The distance covered was also graphically represented by horizontal bars on the monitors (each completed bar ⫽ 1 km). Participants were instructed not to “free wheel” (i.e., stop pedaling) during the trials. After the competitive trial, participants had a 2-min “cool down” period (i.e., they were requested to pedal at low resistance) and subsequently returned to

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a desk where they were given a 10-min rest period. During this time, they completed a questionnaire assessing their perceived cycling ability, well-being, and perceived performance and effort. Participants were then asked to return to the bikes for a second 8-min competitive trial. After the subsequent 2-min cool-down period, participants completed a questionnaire assessing the same constructs as after the first trial, with the addition of items assessing their perceptions of the competitive environment. The main investigator then debriefed the subjects. Competitive Environment Manipulation All instructions to induce the different competitive environments were given by prerecorded messages to ensure uniformity in their presentation and to diminish the potential influence of interpersonal factors such as the experimenters’ mood, voice, and tone. The specific instructions for the Ego-Involving Competition were as follows: The task you are about to perform is an 8-min muscular endurance task. Previous research has shown muscle endurance to be an integral aspect of most sports, and your score on this task will reveal your level of ability on this important quality. You will complete two trials and compete against your opponent to see who can bike the furthest distance in a given time. To ensure equal competitive conditions, your bikes will be set at 35% of your VO2max test earlier. The object of today’s two tests is to bike a longer distance than your opponent. Your scores will also be compared against other students in your group and subsequently displayed on the college website and on the second-year notice board. Remember, that the most important thing is who of you wins the competition, so focus all of your attention on being the winner!

After returning to the bikes for the second trial, participants in the ego-involving competitive condition were reminded of the goal of the task by informing them, “The goal of the upcoming test is to bike a longer distance than your opponent. Remember, that the most important thing is winning this competition, so focus all of your attention on being the winner!” For the Task-Involving Competition, participants also competed against each other. However, the emphasis in this condition was on physical effort and trying to witness personal improvement rather than outperforming the other participant. The instructions were as follows:

The task you are about to perform is a muscular endurance task, which involves biking as long a distance as you can within 8 min. To ensure equal conditions, your bikes will be set at 35% of your VO2max test earlier. You will complete two trials and your scores (i.e., the distance biked) will be compared with the other participant. However, the score is not the main issue here; the important thing is that you try as hard as you can, and that you try to improve your own performance over the two trials. Try to focus too on important technical aspects such as utilizing the foot straps to pull, and not only push the pedals down, thus creating a more efficient, smooth, and flowing leg movement. Remember, the important thing is that you focus on your own performance, try as hard as you can and just do your best!

On the basis of a pilot study including follow-up interviews, it was found that some participants still felt they were focusing primarily on beating the other participant despite the taskinvolving instructions. In an attempt to make participants in this condition center more on their own race and the task at hand, the selfmonitoring facets of the self-regulation process (e.g., Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1996) were emphasized. Specifically, participants were requested to evaluate the efficiency and smoothness of their leg movements during each trial. In addition, to enhance the focus on one’s own performance, each participant’s distance covered during the first 8-min bout was written on a whiteboard (on each side of the divider) in 2-min intervals. Subsequent pilot testing and follow-up interviews suggested that these modifications were indeed effective in creating a more task-involving competitive condition. Before the second competitive trial, participants were briefly reminded of the goal of this experimental condition by informing them, Remember, the important thing is to give it your best effort. In the upcoming trial, try to improve your own personal past performance. The distance from your previous performance is displayed in 2-min intervals on the whiteboard next to you.

Outcome Manipulation Participants were also randomly assigned to either a two consecutive success or failure condition. It was believed two consecutive wins would increase, whereas two losses would decrease, participants’ perceptions of cycling ability. Previous research (Chi, 1993) manipulating perceived ability before the experiment (i.e., by telling participants their scores were in the upper or lower quartile of their age group on the

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COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT

VO2max estimation) showed to be ineffective. Most participants would be expected to have some sort of knowledge regarding their cycling skills and may even know their exact VO2max score. For these reasons it was decided not to manipulate perceptions of ability before the task but rather to “boost” or “shake” participants’ perceived cycling competence by manipulating task outcome over two consecutive trials during the competition itself. On the basis of extensive pilot testing, it was found that the most realistic manipulation was to continuously add 12.5% to the winner’s displayed distance (as shown on his or her monitor) and to start the manipulation 30 sec into the competitive trial. The losers’ displayed distance reflected their actual performance. After each competitive trial, the distance displayed on the monitor was read out aloud and participants were informed that they had either won or lost. Measures Perceived cycling ability. The effectiveness of the competitive outcome manipulation was determined via an examination of the participants’ perceptions of their ability in cycling and their posttrial appraisal of how well they performed. Perceived cycling ability (e.g., “I think I was pretty good at the task”) was measured at the beginning of the experiment and after each competitive trial using the 5-item Competence subscale of the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI; McAuley, Duncan, & Tammen, 1989). Participants responded on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). After each trial, one item served as an additional manipulation check for task outcome (“How well do you think you did this task?”). Responses were provided on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not very well) to 7 (very well). Perceptions of the competitive environment. After the final trial, participants answered 14 items based on the work of Standage, Duda, and Pensgaard (2003) to assess whether they perceived the experimental task to be more or less task-involving (8 items, e.g., “trying hard to improve was important”) or ego-involving (6 items, e.g., “the most important thing was to win the race”). Responses were indicated on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

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Subjective vitality. Four items from the state version of the Subjective Vitality Scale (SVS; e.g., “I feel alive and full of vitality”; Ryan & Frederick, 1997) were used in the beginning of the experiment as well as after each competitive trial. Responses were provided on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all true) to 7 (very true). In previous research, this scale has been found to be valid and reliable (Ryan & Frederick, 1997). Satisfaction and interest. To assess participants’ degree of intrinsic satisfaction and interest (e.g., “I had fun doing the task”) with regards to the two competitive trials, the Satisfaction/Interest in Sport Scale (Duda & Nicholls, 1992) was used. Responses were provided on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Research has supported this scale’s validity and internal consistency (Reinboth, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2004). Perceived exerted effort. Perceived exerted effort (e.g., “I tried hard while participating in the task”) was measured after each competitive trial using the four-item Effort/ Importance subscale of the IMI (McAuley et al., 1989). Participants responded on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Both the Competence and the Effort subscales of the IMI have demonstrated acceptable reliability in previous research with British participants in the physical domain (e.g., Goudas & Biddle, 1994). Objective performance. The actual distance (in meters) biked during each 8-min competitive trial was used as an objective measure of bike performance. Because the distance biked was heavily influenced by revolutions per minute, the latter was not used as a separate dependent variable in the analyses. ␣ coefficients for all scales ranged from .76 to .95 and were deemed acceptable on the basis of Nunnally’s (1978) criterion of .70 for the psychological domain. All scales were averaged to create a subscale score. Results No significant gender-related main effects or interactions with respect to any of the dependent variables emerged. Thus, the data were collapsed across gender for all subsequent analyses.

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Manipulation Checks To test the effectiveness of the competitive environment manipulation (task- vs. egoinvolving goal emphasis), we conducted a one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with the two self-reported perceived-task and ego-involving competitive environment subscale scores as the dependent variables. A main effect was revealed for competitive condition (Wilks’ ␭ ⫽ .25; F(2, 102) ⫽ 154.16, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .75). Follow-up univariate analyses showed that participants in the task-involving competitive condition perceived the activity to be significantly higher in its taskinvolving features (M ⫽ 4.24, SD ⫽ .40) than its ego-involving characteristics (M ⫽ 2.96, SD ⫽ .60) [F(1, 103) ⫽ 165.60, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .62]. In contrast, subjects in the ego-involving condition perceived the competitive environment to be significantly higher in its ego- (M ⫽ 4.03, SD ⫽ .62) than its task-involving features (M ⫽ 2.46, SD ⫽ .59) [F(1, 103) ⫽ 177.21, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .63]. Thus, the manipulation of the competitive environment was deemed effective. One-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted to test the effectiveness of the win/loss manipulation. The one-item measure of participants’ performance appraisals and scores on the perceptions of cycling ability scale served as the dependent variables. To control for possible individual differences in perceptions of cycling ability before the competitive trials, baseline measures of perceived cycling ability were used as covariates. Results showed that participants losing the first competitive trial reported significantly lower perceptions of cycling ability (M ⫽ 3.83, SD ⫽ 1.08) than winners (M ⫽ 5.08, SD ⫽ .72; F(1, 98) ⫽ 61.55, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .39). The same was true after the second competitive trial (losers M ⫽ 4.01, SD ⫽ 1.33; winners M ⫽ 5.48, SD ⫽ .2; F(1, 98) ⫽ 69.18, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .41). Therefore, the competitive outcome manipulation was also deemed to be successful. Competitive Condition, Outcome, Achievement Behavior, and Well-Being To examine the effect of the task- versus ego-involving competitive condition and the competitive outcome on changes in participants’ reported effort and cycling performance

and well-being across the two competitive trials, a 2 ⫻ 2 ⫻ 2 repeated-measures ANOVA was conducted. Competitive condition and outcome were the between-subjects variables and the two phases of assessment (i.e., after each 8-min race) the repeated-measures factor. Means and standard deviations for the four experimental conditions after each trial are shown in Table 1. Exerted effort. There was a significant main effect for manipulated outcome on selfreported exerted effort, F(1, 101) ⫽ 11.17, p ⬍ .01; ␩2 ⫽ .10, showing participants in the winning condition to report higher levels of effort (M ⫽ 5.81) than those in the losing condition (M ⫽ 5.30). Participants in the task-involving competitive condition reported higher levels of exerted effort (M ⫽ 5.69) than those in the ego-involving competitive condition (M ⫽ 5.42); however, this difference only approached significance, F(1, 101) ⫽ 3.05, p ⬍ .10; ␩2 ⫽ .03.

Table 1 Cell Means and Standard Deviations for the Four Experimental Conditions (Competitive Condition Crossed With Competitive Outcome) After R1 and R2 Winners Variable Task involving R1 Intrinsic interest R2 Intrinsic interest R1 Subjective vitality R2 Subjective vitality R1 Exerted effort R2 Exerted effort R1 Performance (distance in meters) R2 Performance (distance in meters) Ego involving R1 Intrinsic interest R2 Intrinsic interest R1 Subjective vitality R2 Subjective vitality R1 Exerted effort R2 Exerted effort R1 Performance (distance in meters) R2 Performance (distance in meters)

M

SD

(n ⫽ 25)

Losers M

SD

(n ⫽ 27)

3.63 3.93 5.00 4.83 5.57 6.09

0.52 0.51 1.00 1.40 0.75 0.59

3.40 3.69 4.66 4.71 5.19 5.91

0.48 0.48 1.00 1.40 1.06 0.66

4705

460

4841

527

5150

491

5253

487

(n ⫽ 27)

(n ⫽ 25)

3.28 3.54 4.73 4.71 5.51 6.07

0.37 0.39 1.19 1.40 0.70 0.47

3.16 3.07 3.93 3.64 5.07 5.04

0.59 0.65 1.24 1.38 1.09 1.23

5002

617

5135

525

5210

564

5049

658

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However, the main effects were superseded by a three-way interaction effect for competitive condition, manipulated outcome, and phase of assessment F(1, 100) ⫽ 10.53, p ⬍ .01; ␩2 ⫽ .09. Follow-up ANOVAs split by phases of assessment showed a main effect for outcome after Trial 1, F(1, 100) ⫽ 5.29, p ⬍ .05. A significant interaction effect for competitive condition and outcome emerged after Trial 2, F(1, 100) ⫽ 7.64, p ⬍ .01. Pairwise comparison showed that after Trial 2, losers in the egoinvolving competition reported lower levels of exerted effort than winners, t(100) ⫽ ⫺4.73, p ⬍ .001, as well as participants in the taskinvolving competition, regardless of outcome. Bike performance. Because significant differences in bike performance (i.e., distance biked in meters) emerged in Trial 1, a 2 (task- or ego-involving competitive condition) ⫻ 2 (win/ lose) analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with Trial 2 bike performance as the dependent variable was conducted using Time 1 bike performance as a covariate. Significant main effects emerged for Trial 1 bike performance, F(1, 99) ⫽ 205.11, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .67, competitive condition, F(1, 99) ⫽ 24.78, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .20, and outcome F(1, 99) ⫽ 5.17, p ⬍ .05; ␩2 ⫽ .05. Participants in the task-involving competitive condition performed better (M ⫽ 5326.50) than those in the ego-involving competitive condition (M ⫽ 5004.68). Also, winners of the competitive trials performed better (M ⫽ 5236.91) than losers (M ⫽ 5094.27). These main effects were superseded by a significant interaction effect for competitive condition and manipulated outcome, F(1, 99) ⫽ 14.41, p ⬍ .05; ␩2 ⫽ .04. Participants in the task-involving competitive condition performed at a high level regardless of whether they won or lost. In contrast, those losing in the egoinvolving competitive condition performed significantly worse than winners in the same condition. Well-being variables. Significant between-subjects main effects emerged for competitive condition, F(1, 101) ⫽ 19.70, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .16, and outcome F(1, 101) ⫽ 8.61, p ⬍ .001; ␩2 ⫽ .08, with respect to participants’ reported intrinsic interest/satisfaction. Participants in the task-involving competition reported higher levels of interest and satisfaction (M ⫽ 3.66; SD ⫽ .51) than participants in the egoinvolving competitive condition (M ⫽ 3.27;

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SD ⫽ .53). In addition, participants in the win condition reported finding the cycling races more intrinsically interesting and enjoyable (M ⫽ 3.60, SD ⫽ .63) than participants in the lose condition (M ⫽ 3.33, SD ⫽ .64). A threeway interaction effect for competitive condition, manipulated outcome, and competitive trials on reported intrinsic interest was revealed, F(1, 100) ⫽ 4.61, p ⬍ .05; ␩2 ⫽ .04. Follow-up ANOVAs split by phases of assessment showed a main effect for competitive condition after Trial 1 F(1, 100) ⫽ 9.35, p ⬍ .01; a main effect emerged for competitive condition, F(1, 100) ⫽ 24.64, p ⬍ .001, as well as Outcome 1, F(1, 100) ⫽ 12.20, p ⬍ .01, after Trial 2. Additional t tests were conducted showing that after Trial 1, losers in the ego-involving competition reported lower intrinsic interest than winners in the same condition, as well as participants in the task-involving competition, regardless of outcome, t(100) ⫽ ⫺2.44, p ⬍ .05. The same pattern emerged for Trial 2, t(100) ⫽ ⫺5.46, p ⬍ .001. To control for possible individual differences in feelings of energy available to each participant before the experiment, baseline measures of subjective vitality were used as a covariate. A significant between-subjects main effect emerged for competitive condition, F(1, 101) ⫽ 5.51, p ⬍ .05; ␩2 ⫽ .05, showing participants in the task-involving competition to report higher levels of subjective vitality (M ⫽ 4.72) than participants in the ego-involving competitive condition (M ⫽ 4.31). Discussion The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of task- and ego-involving competitive conditions and competitive outcome on achievement striving and indices of psychological well-being. In line with the tenets of AGT (Nicholls, 1989) and our hypotheses, the present results indicated that engaging in exercise bike trials in a competitive condition in which task-involving situational cues are made salient, compared with a condition emphasizing egoinvolving aspects of competition, resulted in higher levels of self-reported intrinsic interest, subjective vitality, and superior objective performance, even when competitive failure had been experienced. On the contrary, egoinvolving situational cues coupled with compet-

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itive failure proved detrimental to optimal motivation and performance as well as the quality in task engagement and investment. Applying Cohen’s (1988) criteria for interpreting the effect size threshold (small ⫽ .10; medium ⫽ .30; large ⫽ .50), the main effects could be categorized as medium and the interaction effects as small for achievement behavior and well-being variables. The main effect for outcome showed that winners (i.e., those receiving feedback indicating that they were good at the task) indicated that they tried harder, performed better, and reported higher levels of well-being than losers. This is in line with previous research findings (e.g., Van Yperen, 2003; Beattie, Woodman, Fakehy, & Dempsey, 2016) and assumptions of Deci and Ryan (1985). It seems that athletes, who perceive themselves to possess high physical skills, and their psychological need for competence satisfied may find their sport participation more intrinsically interesting, enjoyable, and energy enhancing. The main effects of competitive condition were also significant, showing that those in the task-involving competitive condition reported higher intrinsic interest, subjective vitality, effort, and performed better than those in the ego-involving competitive condition. This finding is in accordance with the meta-analysis by Utman (1997) showing assigned performance (or ego) goals rather than assigned mastery (or task) goals to have a undermining effect on actual performance (Utman, 1997) and runs counter to Harackiewicz, Barron, Pintrich, Elliot, & Thrash (2002) argument that mastery goals do not usually have a positive effect on performance. However, in line with Nicholls’ (1984, 1989) assumptions, when perceptions of ability (as induced by the competitive outcome manipulation) were taken into account, the patterns of results changed quite dramatically for those in the egoinvolving condition. Participants in the egoinvolving competition who won (and thus reported higher perceived ability) also reported relatively high levels of well-being and performed well. These findings lend support to the premise that quality of task engagement and high performance may be manifested when an ego goal is adopted as long as the individual perceives her/his ability to be high. In contrast, when perceived ability was low, individuals in the ego-involving competitive condition per-

formed worse and reported the lowest levels of well-being than any of the other groups. These patterns of relationship are to some extent similar to experimental findings by Cury, Elliot, Sarrazin, Da Fonseca, and Rufo (2002); Elliot, Shell, Henry, and Maier (2005) and in line with Van Yperen et al. (2015) grounded in the trichotomous achievement goal model. Cury and associates found performance-approach goals to have a positive effect whereas performanceavoidance goals have an undermining effect on intrinsic motivation. Discussing their findings, the authors do point out that under certain circumstances, such as in the face of failure, performance-approach goals may be more likely than mastery (or task) goals to lead to reduced intrinsic interest, and that this is most likely prompted by the adoption of performanceavoidance goals (in which individuals focus on avoiding failure relative to others). In line with the thinking of Van Yperen (2003), the adoption of a performance approach or avoidance goal may perhaps be the result rather than the cause of the individual’s greater or poorer performance. However, more research is needed directly comparing the partitioned (i.e., in which both task and ego goals are divided into approach and avoidance goals) with the nonpartitioned (or dichotomous) goal approach. Future research should also test whether an individual holding a performance-approach goal may revert to a performance-avoidance goal (perhaps as a strategy to protect their self-worth) after experiencing continuous failure (e.g., Papaioannou, Milosis, Kosmidou, & Tsigilis, 2007). Our findings showed that losers in the egoinvolving condition performed better in the first (R1) than in the second race (R2). On the basis of Nicholls (1989) thinking, performance impairment is dependent on how certain individuals are that they lack ability. It could be that the participants in this group perceive their ability to be low, but not low enough to have extinguished their commitment to establish competence at the task at hand. As the participants face failure for the second time in R2, the probability of low effort and low performance should increase as perceived competence decreases (Nicholls, 1989). According to Roskes, Elliot, and DeDreu (2014), striving to avoid failure can evoke alertness, vigilance, and attention to detail, which could lead to high-quality performance in the area of sport in the short run.

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As suggested by Van Yperen et al. (2014), there may be situations (e.g., qualification heats, or in which the opponent is considered much stronger) in which avoidance goals may not have such a negative connotation. Furthermore, perhaps qualitative research is needed to investigate if and why this may be the case. This study also provides evidence supporting the premise that variation in context-induced achievement goals (task and ego) can exist relative to an objectively competitive situation and such variability is relevant to cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to a sport-related physical task. One of the main contributions of our findings is that they provide support indicating a task-involving environment can be created in an objectively competitive situation where strong objective ego-involving cues are present. These results are consonant with the multitude of studies that have found evidence for the existence of perceived task-involving atmospheres (as assessed with different versions of the Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire; e.g., PMCSQ-2; Newton, Duda, & Yin, 2000) in the competitive world of sport. These cross-sectional studies have indicated that positive outcomes are likely to correspond to perceptions of a task-involving climate (Ntoumanis, & Biddle, 1999) whereas a perceived ego-involving climate tends to be linked to maladaptive or negative outcomes (e.g., see Harwood et al., 2015; Duda, 2001). One plausible explanation for the observed adaptive consequences of a task-involving psychological environment is that such a climate reinforces multiple criteria of success (e.g., Swain & Harwood, 1996). Thus, such a climate might provide athletes a broader basis for experiencing success. A second explanation for why a situationally emphasized task goal focus would be expected to be beneficial is that it should reduce athletes’ use of social comparison and evaluation. When centered on the social presentation of the self, if an athlete fails or feels incompetent, this might lead to maladaptive strategies, such as effort withdrawal or selfhandicapping strategies to protect self-worth. Kaplan and Maehr (1999) argue that for taskinvolved individuals, self-consciousness is minimal as the person becomes immersed in the task-related issues that reflect personal growth and development rather than self-validation. When athletes meet challenges or difficulties

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within a task-involving climate, they are not likely to engage in maladaptive achievement strategies because they feel little need to protect their self-worth. In contrast, athletes performing in a strong ego-involving environment will focus attention toward self-validation in which judgments regarding self-worth become contingent upon success, which, following the logic of a differentiated conception of ability, means doing better than others (Nicholls, 1989). The clear advantage of promoting a task-involving climate is that it does not put the athletes in such a vulnerable position regarding the self and concerns about the adequacy of one’s ability (Hogue et al., 2013). In addition to potential implications for self-worth, it seems too that, for task-involved individuals, perceptions of competence are not a critical factor influencing ensuing achievement-related responses. In fact, our findings tentatively indicate that a taskinvolving climate may even counter the potential debilitating effects of failure on performance as well as the quality of the experience. Practical Implications and Conclusion Motivation and performance have the potential to work together so that individuals who enjoy what they are doing spend more time developing their skills in an activity, leading to increased performance (Tauer & Harackiewicz, 2004). What is particularly appealing about the situational approach to motivation, achievement striving, and well-being epitomized in the present work is the potential it holds for intervention and prevention through efforts to reengineer the motivational climate (e.g., Ames, 1992). Given the positive relationship between perceptions of a task-involving climate and perceptions of competence as well as performance (Harwood et al., 2015) across age as well as with Olympic gold medalists (Pensgaard & Duda, 2002), we suggest coaches to apply Epstein’s (1988) TARGET principles to create a more taskinvolving motivational climate (see Ames, 1992; Braithwaite, Spray, & Warburton, 2011). Diminishing or eliminating competition has always been a “tough sell” to most coaches because many of them strongly believe competitive focus is essential to achieve success (Roberts, Treasure, & Kavussanu, 1997). In addition, as previously discussed, competition is integral to the athletic setting. What is funda-

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mental in terms of athletes’ responses, it seems, is how that competition is colored or construed. In line with previous cross-sectional research findings (Treasure, 2001), our findings indicate that although competition is present, the situation can still be task-involving. This seems especially important in high-level competitive sport in which strong, objective, ego-involving cues are difficult to change. During a cycling competition, coaches could inform athletes (e.g., via radio communication) or the athletes could use meaningful self-talk metaphors for attention control (Williams, Zinsser, & Bunker, 2014), which remind them to exert maximum effort or focus on individual technical aspects that are important to the athlete. In summary, in line with AGT (Nicholls, 1989) and previous cross-sectional findings (e.g., Roberts, 2012; Harwood et al., 2015), the results of the present study showed that a taskinvolving in contrast to an ego-involving competitive climate resulted in higher performance and higher levels of well-being/greater quality in task engagement, even when objective failure had been experienced. In contrast, ego-involving competitive situational cues coupled with competitive failure proved detrimental to optimal motivation and investment. References Adie, J. W., Duda, J. L., & Ntoumanis, N. (2012). Perceived coach-autonomy support, basic need satisfaction and the well-and ill-being of elite youth soccer players: A longitudinal investigation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 51–59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.07 .008 Ames, C. (1992). Achievement goals, motivational climate, and motivational processes. In G. C. Roberts (Ed.), Motivation in sports and exercise (pp. 161–176). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Beattie, S., Woodman, T., Fakehy, M., & Dempsey, C. (2016). The role of performance feedback on the self-efficacy-performance relationship. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5, 1–13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/spy0000051 Braithwaite, R., Spray, C. M., & Warburton, V. E. (2011). Motivational climate interventions in physical education: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 628 – 638. http://dx.doi .org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.06.005 Chi, L. (1993). Prediction of achievement–related cognitions and behaviors in the physical domain: A test of the theories of goal perspectives and

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