Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players

]Abstract[

Gender differences in goal setting, perceived motivational climate, perceived athletic ability, and perceived sources of confidence in athletic ability were evaluated for a male group and female group of high school basketball players (N = 174). Significant findings included higher scores among males for (a) perceived ego climate and (b) perfection of skills and physical performance as sources of confidence. Significant findings from simple correlation analyses included a positive relationship of both sexes’ task orientation, perceived task climate, and perceived ability, to 8 confidence sources. Male players’ ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, and social support. Males’ perceived ego climate and females’ ego orientation were both positively related to 7 of the 8 sources of confidence. Females’ ego orientation, males’ perceived ego climate, and the 8 sources were positively related to confidence perceived prior to competition. Stepwise regression analyses showed males’ task orientation and perceived ability to predict confidence prior to competition; for females, perceived ability and perceived task climate were effective predictors. Respondents derived better confidence in a task-oriented environment, so the researchers advise coaches to create task-oriented practice environments to enhance confidence of male and female players.

]Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players[

Self-confidence and sport-related confidence have been viewed as crucial factors influencing athletic performance. A number of studies show athletes who are strongly confident in terms of sport concentrate better, have healthier emotions, and demonstrate better game strategies, control of tempos, and performance than less confident athletes (Chi, 1996; Gould, 1981; Mahoney, Gabriel, & Perkin, 1987). The relationship between sport-related confidence and athletic performance should thus be of vital interest to sport psychologists. But sport-related confidence can be an inconsistent and transitory variable. Its instability over time is based largely on where players find their confidence, the confidence source. Research may shed light on how a particular source influences level of confidence, cognition, emotion, and behavior (Vealey, 1986). A careful examination of confidence sources offers to help explain the interaction of social background, organizational culture, and athletes’ individual characteristics.

Competitive sport is an environment for the pursuit of excellence in athletic performance (Duda, 1987). Sport psychology researchers have explored how players develop confidence in their athletic performance. Out of the social-cognitive perspective, achievement goal theory has gradually become popular as a model for testing  (Ames & Archer, 1988; Elliott & Dweck, 1988; Nicholls, 1984, 1989; Mills, 1997; Huang & Chi, 1994).

Prior research on achievement goal theory has shown that a task-oriented climate enhances motivation and confidence (Duda, 1992). There is a relationship between goal orientation and sport-related confidence. Athletes’ task orientation correlates positively to their sport confidence; athletes tending to emphasize acquisition of skill (in other words, perfection) along with the learning process and competitive process tend to have greater sport-related confidence. Shane’s study (2000) of 620 male and female high school or college athletes explored the relationship between goal orientation and sport-related confidence. Its findings showed significant gender differences in task orientation, ego orientation, and several confidence-source factors (skill perfection, demonstration of ability, and physiological/psychological preparation). The findings furthermore showed differences in the perceived sources of sport confidence for high school versus college athletes (both genders).

Studies like Shane’s might lead us to conclude that athletes’ emotions, levels of cognition, and behaviors affect their sport confidence. There is ample research indicating that task-oriented individuals and individuals operating in task-oriented climates have relatively positive emotions as well as a relatively high self-perception and self-perceived ability. Athletes perhaps more than nonathletes self-perceive their abilities, which would make strong impact on their sport confidence (Mills, 1997; Huang & Chi, 1994). Sport confidence research focusing on organizational culture (e.g., perceived motivational climate)  and other environmental factors, however, is rare. In Taiwan, even within sport psychology sport confidence is little used as a research construct.

But what are the variables in athletes’ confidence prior to competing? Where does sport confidence felt by male and female basketball players come from? The present study sought those sources of sport confidence, working from motivational theories and their constructs. The primary focus was relationships among high school basketball players’ goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, sport confidence sources, and pre-competition sport confidence levels, as well as how those relationships differed with the gender of the players.

]Method[

Subjects

The study participants were 174 male (n = 87) and female (n = 87) basketball players who had played in the 2003 HBL [Taiwanese high school basketball league] Division I tournament. The average age of a player was 17.09 years (SD = .91).

Instruments

Four research questionnaires were used to measure four phenomena: (a) participants’ goal orientation, (b) the motivational climate they perceived, (c) perceived personal athletic ability, and (d) perceived personal sport-related confidence.  First, the Sport Goal Orientation Questionnaire (Duda & Nicholls, 1989; modified by Chi, 1993) contains 13 questions and is primarily used to measure individuals’ goal orientation in sport settings. Second, the Perceived Sport Motivation Climate Questionnaire (Seifriz, Duda, & Chi, 1992; modified by Huang & Chi, 1994), which comprises  two parts and 34 questions, is primarily used to measure, in team-sport settings, the motivational climate perceived by individual athletes. Third, a modified version of the Perceived Ability Questionnaire (Nicholls et al., 1985) presented 4 questions. Fourth, the Sport Confidence Questionnaire, Wu and Chi’s modification (2000) of the Vealey et al. Sources of Sports Confidence Questionnaire (1998), was employed to assess the participants’ sources of sport confidence. Wu and Chi’s Sport Confidence Questionnaire contains 35 questions and uses a 7-point Likert scale. Questions address eight proposed sources of confidence, as follows: perfection of skills, 5 questions; demonstration of ability, 6 questions; physiological/psychological preparation, 4 questions; physical performance, 3 questions; social support, 3 questions; vicarious experience, 4 questions; coach’s leadership style, 7 questions; and positive environment, 3 questions. Percentage of variance was 71.03%, and Cronbach’s alpha for the question sets ranged from .70 to .96, indicating strong validity and reliability for the instrument.

Procedures

In advance of the survey administration, coaches and trainers strived to develop good relations with the players and to acquaint themselves well with the practice and game schedules. The researchers informed players participating in the study of the anonymous and strictly confidential nature of their survey responses, and that completing the four instruments would take about 30 minutes. Players met together 2 hours prior to their scheduled practice to complete the instruments. Time was taken at the start of the session to allow the researchers to explain questionnaire content to the participating players.

]Results[

Gender differences were observed when t tests of the data were conducted (Table 1). The differences characterized goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, and sources of sport confidence. Male participants in the study recorded higher scores than female participants did for the sport-related confidence variables perceived ego climate, perfection of skills, and physical performance.

Table 1

Players’ Goal Orientation, Perceived Motivational Climate, Perceived Ability, and Sources of Sport Confidence, by Gender


Gender
Male
Female
Number
  87
   87
    t
Variable
 Mean
   SD
 Mean
  SD

Task orientation 4.052 0.529 4.123 0.569 -0.84
Ego orientation 3.580 0.556 3.500 0.567 0.94
Perceived task climate 3.894 0.437 3.911 0.499 -.24
Perceived ego climate 3.483 0.479 3.264 0.530 2.86*
Perceived ability 4.452 1.171 4.168 1.025 1.69
Perfection of skills 5.365 0.971 5.181 1.056 1.19**
Demonstration 5.523 0.971 5.181 1.056 1.24**
Physiological/psychological preparation 5.508 1.016 5.416 1.046 0.55
Physical performance 4.869 0.897 4.521 1.204 2.16*
Social support 5.272 0.940 5.157 1.199 0.70
Leadership styles 5.492 0.924 5.527 1.145 -0.21
Vicarious experience 5.486 0.932 5.416 1.088 0.33
Positive environment 5.134 1.029 5.038 1.185 0.59

*p < 0.05 **p < 0.01

When simple correlation analyses were performed, positive relationships were observed for the eight sources-of-sport-confidence variables and the task orientations, perceived task climates, and perceived abilities of players of either gender (Table 2, Table 3). (Again, the eight variables are perfection of skills, demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.) Among the male respondents, ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, and social support, while perceived ego climate was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.

Among female respondents, ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment, while ego climate was positively related to both vicarious experience and positive environment.

Table 2

Simple Correlations Between Variables–Male Respondents (n = 87)


Variable
Task
orientation
Ego
orientation
Perceived
task climate
Perceived
ego climate
Perceived
ability

Perfection of skills .596** .179 .568** .203 .265*
Demonstration of ability .395** .270* .398** .358** .285
Physiological/psychological
preparation
.430** .093 .478** .260* .272**
Physical performance .320** .212* .284** .288** .373**
Social support .518** .213* .524** .303** .390**
Coach’s leadership style .517** .192 .568** .284** .401**
Vicarious experience .412** .188 .541** .286** .302**
Positive environment .302** .144 .410** .365** .237**

*p < 0.05  **p < 0.01 (two-tailed)

Table 3

Simple Correlations Between Variables–Female Respondents (n = 87)


Variable
Task
orientation
Ego
orientation
Perceived
task climate
Perceived
ego climate
Perceived
ability

Perfection of skills .639** .325** .664** .068 .415**
Demonstration of ability .570** .552** .541** .350** .263**
Physiological/psychological
preparation
.683** .340** .688** .155 .365**
Physical performance .465** .397** .429** .091 .349**
Social support .637** .457** .648** .128 .426**
Coach’s leadership style .659** .479** .647** .203 .401**
Vicarious experience .595** .250* .684** .058 .536**
Positive environment .511** .309** .494** .227* .500

*p < 0.05   **p < 0.01 (two-tailed)

For the male respondents, perceived task climate effectively predicted demonstration of ability, physical performance, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment. In addition, their task orientation effectively predicted perfection of skills and physiological/psychological preparation. For the female respondents, perceived task climate was an effective predictor of perfection of skills, physical performance, social support, vicarious experience, and positive environment. In addition, their task orientation was an effective predictor of demonstration of ability, physiological/psychological preparation, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.

For males, total equality of variance was 22.6%, and the variance for each variable was 17.6% and 5.0%. For females, perceived ability and perceived task climate were effective predictors of confidence perceived prior to competition; the total equality of variance was 43.9%, and the variance for each variable was 39.6% and 4.3%.

]Conclusions[

The study results include significant gender differences in perceived ego climate and three source-of-sport-confidence variables: perfection of skills, demonstration, and physical performance. Additionally, for both genders, sources of confidence were closely related to a player’s task orientation, perceived task climate, and perceived ability. During stepwise regression analyses, both genders’ sources of sport confidence were shown to be effectively predicted by a player’s task orientation, motivation task climate, and self-perceived ability. Such findings are in line with results of several previous studies (Shane, 2000; Vealey, 1998; Wu & Chi, 2000). The findings indicated further that players who were more task oriented, or preferred task-oriented climates, valued the participative process (comprising effort, perfection, and learning) over the win-lose outcome. This emphasis would have a positive effect on both sport-related confidence and the sources of that confidence. For this reason, the researchers suggest first that coaches work harder at creating task-oriented practice environments or climates, and second that they strive to understand the sources of their players’ sport-related confidence, in order to enhance the athletes’ confidence.

Future studies in the area of athletes’ sport-related confidence might investigate sequential effects of different types of motivational climates on sources of sport confidence (effort and performance) as well as on cognitive anxiety, state anxiety, and satisfaction.

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