Sports And Emotions

Essay by nadia786 April 2011

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Sports and Emotions � PAGE �1�

Sports and Emotions


In the past two decades there has been much research on the processes and interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. To a large extent this research has explored the effects of extrinsic factors on intrinsic motivation. In other words, it has attempted to sort out what extrinsic factors tend to enhance intrinsic motivation for an activity and what extrinsic factors tend to undermine it. Although only a small amount of this research has actually been carried out in sport settings, it is all directly relevant because sports tend to involve intrinsically interesting activities that may be performed in pursuit of extrinsic incentives. Thus, the research paradigms typically used tend to be excellent analogs of sports settings.


Millions of people throughout the world are highly involved in sports as athletes, coaches, or spectators. Children start at very young ages trying to hit a softball, catch a football, or stand up on ice skates.

In terms of motivation, sports have all the necessary ingredients to be intrinsically motivating. The activities themselves are interesting and exciting. Challenge and mastery are central components; and participation is, in most cases, voluntary. Certainly in sand-lot games and amateur athletics people seem to need no prods or incentives to play; the direct, experiential rewards derived from the activity seem to be enough to maintain their involvement.


It appears from several studies that, in general, competition tends to serve the function of controlling people by getting them ego involved in winning. As a result, it tends to decrease intrinsic motivation, relative to no competition. Competitive outcomes -- winning versus losing -- do provide competence information, and winning has often been found to lead to more intrinsic motivation than losing. Nonetheless, if the competition is highly...