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From ‘motivational climate’ to ‘motivational atmosphere’: a review of research examining the social and environmental influences on athlete motivation in sport

By Richard Keegan, Christopher Spray, Chris Harwood and David Lavallee


This chapter is intended to provide a comprehensive review of the various theories of social and environmental factors that influence athletes’ motivation in sport. In order to achieve this, a short historical review is conducted of the various ways in which motivation has been studied over the past 100 years, culminating in the ‘social-cognitive’ approach that undergirds several of the current theories of motivation in sport. As an outcome of this brief review, the conceptualisation and measurement of motivation are discussed, with a focus on the manner in which motivation may be influenced by key social agents in sport, such as coaches, parents and peers. This discussion leads to a review of Deci & Ryan’s (2000) self-determination theory (SDT), which specifies that environments and contexts which support basic psychological needs (competence, relatedness and autonomy) will produce higher quality motivation than environments which frustrate of exacerbate these needs. The research establishing the ways in which key social agents can support these basic needs is then reviewed, and the review depicts a situation wherein SDT has precipitated a way of studying the socio-environmental influences on motivation that has become quite piecemeal and fragmented. Following this, the motivational climate approach (Ames, 1992) specified in achievement-goals theory (AGT – Nicholls, 1989) is also reviewed. This section reveals a body of research which is highly consistent in its methodology and findings. The following two sections reflect recent debates regarding the nature of achievement goals and the way they are conceptualised (e.g., approach-avoidance goals and social goals), and the implications of this for motivational climate research are discussed. This leads to a section reviewing the current issues and concerns in the study of social and environmental influences on athlete motivation. Finally, future research directions and ideas are proposed to facilitate, precipitate and guide further research into the social and environmental influences on athlete motivation in sport. Recent studies that have attempted to address these issues are reviewed and their contribution is assessed

Topics: C600 Sports Science, C800 Psychology, C880 Social Psychology, C810 Applied Psychology, C841 Health Psychology
Publisher: NovaScience Publications
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:

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