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Causal Attribution in Sport

By Mark Grayson and Tomos Watts

tomos watts

on 15 September 2015

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Transcript of Causal Attribution in Sport

Causal Attributions in sport
Sport Specific Studies
Attribution Types
Research overview
Attribution is fundamentally concerned with how people infer causal relations and the characteristics of other people in the environment. Attribution is important to identify what factors give rise to what outcomes occur in relation to their and others performances. Fiske & Taylor (2008)
attribution in sport are the reasons that are given for performance outcomes and can be affected in many different ways.
Allen, Jones & Sheffield (2008, 2009) is the most seminal and recent research with both team and individual attribution.
Future Research - Coach athlete difference in attribution (pre + post performance)
Reflective practice could be introduced to coach education to develop desirable attribution in athletes.

Locus of causality - how controllable a performance and the variables are

Manuel Almunia (2 days post performance):

"Barcelona bossed us and in the second half we had players that were not running," he said.

"We only needed one goal and with a bit more effort we could have caused them damage at the end.

"Even at 3-1, we only needed one goal and, well, you can't understand how there can be players that were walking. We were tired.

"It seemed that everything was lost but you can score a goal at any moment. So the only explanation I have is that we were so tired and the players couldn't give any more.

"And down to 10 men, it was double the effort. We came up against a Barcelona side that are the best in the world."


Stability - whether the causes are deemed stable or variable over time. e.g. stable(health) vs variable(injury/fitness)
Controllability - whether performence is regulated by the individual or not e.g. your opponent
Globality - causes percieved as localised or occuring across many situations e.g. a blip (losing one game in 10) or a run of poor form (losing 10 games out of 10)
Universality - whether causes are common amoung others or unique to the individual e.g. weather conditions (universal) boxing weight class (unique within the parameters of that weight class)
Intentionality - whether causes are deemed deliberate or accidental.
Abramson, Seligman &Teasdale (1978): Weiner (1985)
Attentional Shift Hypothesis (Moore, Sherrod, Liu, & Underwood (1979) - Attributions will change over time due to different perspectives being employed when recalling past events compared to present events.

Attributions are proposed to become more dispositional (internal) over time.
Control Perception Hypothesis (Miller & Porter 1980) - Attributions become more situational (external) over time due to the motivation to possess a perception of control that weakens over time.
Selective Memory Decay Hypothesis (Burger & Huntzinger 1985) - Because people don't lose detail from memory in a random fashion, with more flattering information easier to recall, unflattering attributions will fade from memory more quickly than satisfying attributions.

E.G. Following success attributions should become more internal over time, whereas following failure attributions should become more external over time.
Allen, Jones, & Sheffield (2008)
Examined the extent to which attributions are consistent in the days following competition and how attributions made immediately after competition may influence the temporal patterning of emotions experienced in response to competition.
60 Female Golfers - Mean Handicap 15.93
Completed measures of satisfaction with performance, causal attribution, and emotion immediately after competition, 5 hours after competition, and 2 days after competition.
Findings -
Attributions didn't change over time.
Emotions showed significant decrease in intensity in 5-hour post competition period.
Change in anger and dejection was more likely after less successful performances.
Attributions moderated levels of change in anger.
Participants experienced anger for longer when cause of poor performance was identified as stable rather than unstable (controllabe vs uncontrollable).

For those losing teams, It was shown that when the cause of team defeat was perceived as under the control of others, the stability of the cause was largely unimportant
Only when the cause was deemed under the control of the team did detrimental affect occur to the teams collective efficacy

This study shows evidence that team-referent attributions contribute to emotions and collective efficacy beliefs in group achievement settings.

Allen, Jones, & Sheffield (2009)
Examined the effects of team referent attributions on emotions and self-efficacy in athletes.

265 athletes from 31 sports teams completed a measures of competition importance, sport emotion questionnaire and a collective efficacy measure immediately prior to competition and immediately after competition.
Findings -
Following team victory, attribution of the teams (locus of) control were associated with the levels of postcompetition happiness.
As the teams began to produce stable consistent performances over time the teams controllable attribution was associated with higher levels of postcompetition collective positive efficacy and self belief.
When team members identified the cause of victory as residing within the team, a stronger belief in the team’s capabilities was shown.
Outcome dependent effect
Causal antecedents
Causal ascriptions
Causal dimensions
Psychological consequences
Behavioural consequences
Wiener (1985)
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