Attribution theory

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  • Created by: z_mills1
  • Created on: 27-03-15 14:26

Weiner's attribution theory

Attributions – perceived reasons for performance/outcome

4 categories of attribution:

  • ability (internal/stable)
  • effort (internal/unstable)
  • luck (external/unstable)
  • task difficulty (external/stable)

locus of causality: the internal/external factors that a performer believed caused an event

stability dimension: the stabl/unstable factors that a performer believed caused an event 

locus of control: the extent to which a performer believes that the outcome was within their control (or not)

self-serving bias: the tendency to attribute success to internal factors (e.g. our own skill/effort) and failures to external factors (e.g. luck/task difficulty) -> develops self-esteem/increases motivation

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Application of attribution theory

Application of weiner's model:

  • attributing success to internal factors (skill/effort) will develop self-esteem and increase motivation
  • attributing failure to internal/stable factors -> performer believes they do not have required ability and might give up
  • performers are encouraged to view failure as a result of unstable factors that can be changed e.g. effort/luck -> this prevents damage to self-esteem
  • coaches also refer to to external factors beyond the control of the performer e.g. task dificulty   -> attribute failure to the quality of opposition to prevent damge to self-esteem
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Learned helplessness

Learned helplessness: the state that occurs when a performer believes that failure is inevitable and that they have no way of changing that outcome.

Characteristics of learned helplessness:

  • Performer perceives failure is inevitable/only option
  • No control over the situation
  • Causes avoidance behaviour/no task persistence/giving up is the only option/lack of effort
  • Caused by attributing failure to ability/internal stable factors
  • performer believes they have limited ability

Global learned helplessness – general sporting situations, eg not good at water sports

Specific learned helplessness – specific situations, eg not good at diving in the pool 

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Attribution retraining

Attribution retraining: methods of helping the performer to change the way they explain the causes of success and failure

  • performer learns to attribute failure to factors that can be controlled 

specific strategies that a coach could use:

  • observe and listen to players -> monitor their attributions
  • draw attention to progression/change
  • focus on process/performance goals rather than outcome
  • try and ensure initial success to avoid learned helplessness
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