Children's task and ego goal profiles in sport


School of Education, University of Exeter, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK.


The purpose of this study was to examine the combined effects of task and ego goal orientations on children's sport motivation. Participants were 115 boys and 116 girls (mean age = 11.12 yrs). Unlike previous research, where the correlates of the two orientations have been examined separately, this study examined the motivational consequences of different task and ego combinations. Four groups were created based on mean splits on the task and ego scales of the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire. These were low task/low ego, low task/high ego, high task/low ego, and high task/high ego. The hi/hi group emerged as the most motivated and the lo/lo group least motivated in measures of sport enjoyment and perceived sport competence. The lo/lo group, made up primarily of girls, appear to be at high risk for non-participation in sport.

Children dominated by a task orientation were more motivated than those dominated by an ego orientation. A similar pattern emerged whether children were in the lower or upper third of the perceived sport competence distribution. A high task orientation appears to provide the vital element for sport motivation. The addition of ego involvement to task involvement may enhance sport enjoyment and does not appear to be motivationally detrimental. Task and ego profile analysis seems to offer important insight into the achievement motivation of children of this age.