The Study Of Motivation In Sport Physical Education Essay

This reviewed research is on motivation in sport. A variety of definitions and approaches to the study motivation will be discussed. One of the forms of motivation being discussed will be intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivations are very important for promoting satisfaction and long term participation in sport. There are three theoretical approaches to the study of intrinsic motivation: behavioral, cognitive, and motivational. Researchers have found that the intrinsic motivation of athletes seems extremely important for long-term involvement, and fine-tuned performance in sport. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or grades. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide. Another form of motivation has to do with gender. Researches have determined that there are motivational differences among male and female sports. It’s also been determined that male and female athletes possess different strengths and weaknesses within the motivational climate. Some detailed differences stated were that men had higher levels of motivation in competition, social acknowledgment, strength and endurance, where women had stronger motivation to control weight. The last factor I will cover is cultural effect on motivation.

Introduction to your Research Topic

Deci, et al. (1999) state that intrinsic motivation can also be enhanced by increasing an individual’s perceptions of autonomy and competence. Deci, et al. (1999) also showed that research supported the idea that extrinsic motivations impact on intrinsic motivation was influenced by the controlling nature of those extrinsic rewards. For instance, positive feedback that is not considered controlling would likely add to an individuals perceived competence and have a positive effect on their intrinsic motivation. Vallerand (2000) looks at motivation in a multidimensional manner that encompasses more than the dichotomy of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. He states that motivation for both is on a continuum that ranges from a high to low

level of determination and that operates on three distinct levels: global (one’s overall general motivation), contextual (in a specific domain or field such as education or sports), and situational (the here and now). At each of these levels individuals can have different motivation levels (both intrinsic and extrinsic). For example, one could be highly intrinsically motivated to participate in sports, but less intrinsically motivated regarding education (contextual). However, if a person is feeling ill or tired, they may not have the same intrinsic motivation to participate in sports activities that day (situational). Extrinsic rewards could be applied to both and impact situational motivation in both the short and long term. For example, that individual might be highly motivated to do well on a test and receive a good grade (extrinsic motivation) so that they can be eligible to play on their sports team (intrinsic motivation). Vallerand (2000) postulates that repeated levels of low levels of situational intrinsic motivation will likely have a diminishing

effect on the larger contextual intrinsic motivation. He highlights research done on motivation to play basketball where intrinsic motivational levels were affected by situational motivational levels during tournament games. This research has many implications for organizations and educational situations. While understanding that extrinsic motivation is one of the main drivers of the business world, compensation and other incentive packages need to address their impact on intrinsic motivation and be developed in ways that will reduce the adverse affects or possibly even add to the intrinsic motivational levels. More research on real life situations would be beneficial.

Background of the Research Topic

Motivation in sports and exercise has been studied over the last century but only in recent decades has motivation by gender been analyzed. studies in the area of motivation by gender in these sports and exercise fields: individual and team sports and exercise, martial arts, basketball, volleyball, track and field, and general sports participation and exercise (Kilpatrick, Hebert, Bartholomew, 2005). These results were the most consistent throughout the reports with other similarities and differences noted with each study.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are both adaptable and change in response to specific situations and life occurrences. While not easy to define, intrinsic motivation can be described as an internal drive to perform an activity. While extrinsic motivation is ascribed to an external motivating source that drives action. It is postulated that people attribute their behavior either to an internal or external source. Intrinsic motivation correlates positively to when people attribute

their motivation to internal sources, while extrinsic motivation is correlated to belief in an external source for their behavior (Wiersma, U. J., 1992). Extrinsic motivation, by definition, is changeable since it is an external motivator – one can change the reward or external source (i.e. amount of money offered to do a job, feedback on performance, etc.). Meta-analysis of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational research by Deci, Koestner and Ryan (1999) found that intrinsic

motivation is negatively affected when tangible extrinsic motivation is attached to the behavior. This undermining of intrinsic motivation is postulated to be the result of a perceived decrease in autonomy and competency by the individual receiving the extrinsic reward. Self-determination Theory states that humans have three inherent needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Of these, autonomy and competence are the main drivers of intrinsic motivation (Franken, 2002). Thus we see that intrinsic motivation can be changed by adding an extrinsic motivating component.

Motivation is a crucial factor within the sport and exercise field. Understanding what and how motivation works is equally important. Based on these reviews gender also plays a role within the motivational climate. Studies have revealed variations in motivational factors within each gender. In Chie-der, Chen, Hung-yu, and Li-Kang’s journal 87 male and 87 female basketball players from the HBL were selected for the research. Four research questionnaires were used to measure four phenomena: participants’ goal orientation, the motivational climate they perceived, perceived personal athletic ability, perceived personal sport-related confidence (Chie-der, Chen, Hung-yu, Li-Kang,2003). Using a t test gender differences were detected. Males tended to record higher scores than females for sports related confidence variables. Males scored higher within ego orientation, perceived ability, and in physical performance. Females tended to score higher in task orientation, perceived task climate, and leadership styles (Chie-der, Chen, Hung-yu, Li-Kang,2003). 

Numerous studies have examined the question of whether there are differences in youth motives across sports, age, gender, and culture and suggest that children or adolescents are subject to the environmental influences in their motivation to participate in certain physical activities. Thus, investigating the diversities in motivation of participation may shed light on the underlying reasons of why children or adolescents take part in various forms of physical activity or sports.

Impact on sports


In Kilpatrick, Hebert, Bartholomew’s study 233 students were studied, 132 women, 101 men. The purpose behind this study was to compare sports participation and exercise motivation through a highly differentiated scale of physical activity. The second objective was to investigate the impact of gender on motivation. This study determined that men were more highly motivated then women when it came to endurance and strength, social recognition, challenge, and most notably competition, where women were more motivated by weight management (Kilpatrick, Hebert, Bartholomew, 2005). It was further suggested in this analysis that motivations to engage in sports differed from motivators to engage in exercise. It was also noted that more of the health related motives were linked to exercise opposed to sports participation thus indicating that sports participation are more closely related to intrinsic motives. It was suggested that based on these findings that men leaned more closely to intrinsic motivation then women. This study further implied that men viewed exercise and fitness opportunities as a means to achieve ego related goals that support their sports participation where as women seemed to enjoy exercise and sports participation equally (Kilpatrick, Hebert, Bartholomew, 2005).

In Murcia, Gimeno, and Coll’s study 413 athletes completed a perceived motivational climate in sports questionnaire. The sample was comprised of 322 boys and 91 girls, sports included individual and team sports. This analysis used the MANOVA to analyze the effects of gender, goal orientations, and perception of motivational climate and its flow. The findings showed that males had a stronger ego orientation that more specifically involved punishment for errors then did females. Females were more inclined to identify a motivational climate orientated towards learning (Murcia, Gimeno, and Coll,2008).

In Jones, Mackay, and Peters journal 17,463 participants participated in a questionnaire. This analysis differed from the others in this review. It noted no significant gender differences, it also noted that the four most important motivations for both male and females were affiliation, fitness, skill development, and friendship, this opposed to the three least influential motivators which were reward/status, situational, and competition. It also noted that the individuals studied in martial arts were immersed in a holistic approach of the martial art which placed increased value on the underlying philosophy. They further noted that the style of the instructor encompassing teaching/communication style and technical ability is of paramount importance for enhancing student motivation to participate (Jones, Mackay, and Peters, 2006). It is implicated within this research that the similarity in gender motivation may be a result of the philosophies of the teachings.


cultural differences in psychological meanings for sport have been documented by empirical research. Research in cross-cultural sport psychology, for example, has found group differences in how athletes prioritize achievement motives, team affiliation, and social recognition (e.g., Kolt; 1999; Rees, Brettschneider, & Brandl-Bredenbeck, 1998; Weinberg, 2000). Similarly, a large literature about sport, globalization, and cultural imperialism describes how sport associates with distinct mentalities within particular historical and national contexts (e.g., Guttmann, 1994; MacAloon, 1996; Maguire, 1999; Miller, Lawrence, McKay, & Rowe, 2001).

findings of previous research


In Gillson, Standage, and Skevington’s journal which studied 300 male and 280 female students in their motivation towards exercise. Motivation towards exercise was measured using the behavioral regulation and exercise questionnaire-2. The statistics were calculated separately for males and females, then gender differences were explored using t-tests and x2 tests. Similar to other results in this review weight seemed to be a greater motivation within girls than boys however girls in general were less motivated to exercise then boys. The most common motivation factor for boys were fitness and health and for girls body tone, health, and attractiveness. In this study just like the study of Kilpatrick, Hebert, Bartholomew, 2005 it was determined that girls were reported to exercise more for extrinsic goals then boys, more specifically when it came to weight control (Gillson, Standage, and Skevington, 2006).


This study derived from participant-observation with the two men’s soccer teams, one sponsored by a private Midwestern university in the United States (referred to as UA) and one associated with a government-sponsored university in Malawi in sub-Saharan Africa (referred to as UM). Because the teams were similar in regards to the relative educational and class status of their members, the two groups varied most clearly by cultural context. Qualitative data was obtained from interviews and observations gathered during two years with the UA team and a year with the UM team. The specific procedures are discussed below after providing necessary context by discussing the participants and settings.

Conclusions section

It is concluded that it is important for coaches, teachers and parents to stress to young athletes the need to improve skills, teamwork and sportsmanship over the win at all costs attitude.


Key words: self-determination,

goal orientations,

motivational climate,

perceived competence

References page

JAM Murcia,(2008) Relationships among Goal Orientations, Motivational Climate and Flow in Adolescent Athletes: Difference by Gender,The Spanish Journal of Psychology, volume 11, number 1, 181-191.

Kilpatrick, Hebert, and Bartholomew, (2005) College Students Motivation for Physical Activity: Differentiating Men’s and Women’s Motives for Sport Participation and Exercise, Journal of American College Health, volume 54, number2

Gareth W. Jones, Ken S. Mackay, and Derek M. Peters, (2006) Participation Motivation in Martial Artists in the West Midlands Region of England, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine CSSI, 28-34

Dongfang Chie-der, Steve Chen, Chou Hung-yu, and Chi Li-Kang, (2003), Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players, The Sport Journal ISSN 1543-9518

Gillison, Standage, Skevington, (2006), Relationships among adolescents’ weight perceptions, exercise goals, exercise motivation, quality of life and leisure-time exercise behavior: a self-determination theory approach, Oxford Journals, Vol. 21, no. 6

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., and Ryan, R. M., (1999). Meta-analytic review of

experiments examining the effects of extrinsic reward and intrinsic motivation.

Psychological Bulletin (125). Retrieved on August 21, 2003 from EBSCOhost.

Franken, R. E., (2002). Human Motivation. Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

Vallerand, R. J., (2000). Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory: A view

from the Hierarchical Model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Wiersma, U. J., (1992). The effects of extrinsic rewards in intrinsic motivation: A

meta-analysis. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (65).

Retrieved on August 21, 2003 from EBSCOhost.


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