Definition Of Motivation In Sport

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 academic approaches to the study of intrinsic motivation: behavioral, cognitive, and motivational. Researchers have found that the intrinsic motivation of athletes seems very important for continuing participation, and elite performance in sport. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that an individual has that comes from outside sources. The motivating forces are external or exterior rewards such as money or awards. These rewards supply fulfillment and satisfaction that the mission itself may not supply. 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.

There's a specialist from your university waiting to help you with that essay.
Tell us what you need to have done now!

order now

Introduction to your Research Topic

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are both adaptable and adjust in reaction to specific situations. While not easy to define, intrinsic motivation can be explained as an internal drive to perform an activity. While extrinsic motivation is known as an external motivating source that drives action. It is said that people attribute their behavior either to an internal or external source. Intrinsic motivation correlates positively 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. 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 innate needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Of these, autonomy and competence are the key drivers of intrinsic motivation (Franken, 2002). As a result we see that intrinsic motivation can be changed by adding an extrinsic motivating component.

Background of the Research Topic

When you start discussing the nature of motivation of sport through gender, you have to ask yourself a question. Has the perceptions of sports progressed in ways that reflect participation in sport? Additional contribution in media exposure of high action sports has increased considerably since the earlier studies had examined attitudes toward gender-appropriate sports. 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.

Deci, et al. (1999) stated that intrinsic motivation can also be improved by increasing an individual’s perceptions of autonomy and ability. Deci, et al. (1999) also showed that research supported the notion that extrinsic motivations impact on intrinsic motivation was influenced by the controlling nature of those extrinsic rewards. For example, positive feedback that is not measured as controlling would likely add to a person’s perceived ability to have a positive effect on their intrinsic motivation. Vallerand (2000) looks at motivation in a multidimensional approach that changes more than the differences in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. He states that motivation for both is on a scale that ranges from a high to low level of willpower and that operates on three distinctive levels: global which is an individual’s overall general motivation in a specific domain or field such as education or sports. Situational or “the here and now. For each of these levels individuals can have diverse motivation levels both intrinsic and extrinsic way. For instance, a person can be greatly intrinsically motivated to participate in sports, but less intrinsically motivated concerning education (global). However, if a person is feeling sick or tired, they may not have the equal intrinsic motivation to participate in sports activities that day (situational). Extrinsic rewards can be useful 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.

Impact on sports


Even though the experiences of many girls and women in the United States point to the opposite, research demonstrates that media always present sports as the a male dominated field (Duncan & Sayaovong, 1990; Hardin, Lynn, Walsdoff, & Hardin, 2002; Pedersen, 2002). Several studies have established that female athletes have been greatly underrepresented in the media (Bernstein, 2002; Pedersen, 2002). The rationale for this may possibly be that the mainly accepted sports in the country are those looked upon to be masculine sports (Messner, 2002). However, since Title IX, the progress of women into various sports that are not considered feminine has been extraordinary. Women participate in practically all types of sport, including those used to display the ultimate masculinity. Even though gender-role differences are natural in accepted perception, research has extensively demonstrated that, as an alternative, most are publicly constructed (Bandura, 1986; Messner, 2002). Gender stereotyping is everywhere, unseen regulators of relationships and opportunities. Bandura’s social cognitive theory is a key in understanding the factors in socialization. The theory argues that behavior, environmental actions, and cognitive factors work to form attitudes and action. Individuals consider action and its result, projecting cost and adjusting accordingly. Therefore, action is not a result of “imprinted histories” as much as it is a result of “cognized futures” (Bandura, 1986, p. 19). Bandura emphasizes the role of the media in social learning so much that, he argues; television persuade has “dethroned” the primacy of interpersonal experience. As a result, life models the media (Bandura, 1986, p. 20).

Findings of previous research


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). 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).

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.



Goal orientations

Motivational climate

Perceived competence




Global motivation

Situational motivation


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 November 13, 2010 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 November 13, 2010 from EBSCOhost.