Behavioral and experiential correlates of the implicit and explicit achievement motive in elite sports
Certain aspects of the achievement motive have been identified as an important predictor of athlete’s performance and experience in elite sports and are used, for example, for talent identification. Recent studies differentiate between implicit and explicit processes of achievement motivation in sports. For example, it was shown that elite athletes can be differentiated from recreational athletes by the strength of their implicit motives. Implicit motives were further shown to be linked to achievement-related practice behavior. This presentation includes first results of a longitudinal study on the links between implicit and explicit motives and practice behavior in Swiss young elite athletes. Within the present study the hypothesis was tested that the implicit achievement motive in particular is associated with long-term athletic performance. Ninety-nine Swiss young elite athletes from the sports of floorball (n = 34), orienteering (n = 31), and shooting (n = 34) were included in the present analysis. The explicit achievement motive was assessed using the Achievement Motive Scale (AMS) and the Personality Research Form (PRF). The strength of the implicit achievement motive was measured using the Picture Story Exercise (PSE). Practice behavior was operationalized via weekly hours spent on organized and additional individual practice. First results show differences regarding the strength of the implicit achievement motive between the three sports investigated. Floorball players show significantly lower levels of the implicit achievement motive than athletes from orienteering or shooting. No differences between athletes from the three sports were found in both measures of the explicit achievement motive (AMS, PRF). First cross-lagged panel analyses showed that the implicit achievement motive is linked to long-term practice behavior in young elite athletes. For the explicit achievement motive such associations could not be found. These first analyses confirm previous findings on the differences in the strength of the implicit achievement motive between interactive (like floorball) and technique-oriented sports (like orienteering, shooting). Additionally, previously found links between the implicit achievement motive and practice behavior in elite sports were confirmed in this longitudinal study.
The effects of social support on well-being in stressful situations – Do implicit motives act as moderators?
Being evaluated when performing a difficult motoric task is a stressful situation. The present research aims to shed light on inconsistent findings in social support research which showed either positive, no or even negative effects of received social support. We assumed that social support is a complex social process which is perceived differently by people with differently strong implicit motives. Individuals with a high affiliation motive subjectively perceive social support as friendly acts and thus are expected to show emotional well-being when being socially-supported. In contrast, for individuals with a high achievement motive and power motive social support signal failure and weakness, respectively and therefore social support is hypothesized to increase negative mood. In order to test our hypotheses, we adapted Bolger and Amarel´s (2007) “invisible support” experimental paradigm. We experimentally-induced informational social support when participants prepare a challenging motoric task (juggling). Eleven male and 40 female students from a middle school (M = 17.09 age, SD = 1.22) participated in the experiment. They were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions visible (n = 16), invisible (n = 19), and no social support (n = 20). The stressor was introduced by telling the participant and a confederate that they have to perform a juggling or a diabolo task, respectively, and that their coordination skills will be recorded on video and will later be evaluated by experts. The participant had then 2 minutes to prepare the juggling task while the confederate act as practice audience and gave social support depending on the experimental group. Emotional well-being was assessed three times (baseline, after the stressor and after receiving social support) using the ASTS (Dalbert, 2009). There is a significant time x group effect on negative mood, F(1.46, 8.96) = 10.36, showing that negative mood increases after the stressor and decreases after social support in the visible and no support condition, but not in the invisible social support group. Furthermore, preliminary analyses showed that the achievement motive (but not the affiliation and power motive) moderates the effects of social support as hypothesized.
Prefrontal brain activity during a static muscular endurance task
Research using cardiovascular endurance tasks shows a quadratic association of prefrontal brain activity and exercise intensity (Rooks, Thom, McCully, & Dishman, 2010): When exercise intensity increases, cerebral oxygenation increases as well and reaches its maximum during hard intensities. At very hard exercise intensities a cerebral oxygenation drops sharply. This research quantifies intensity relative to aerobic capacity. However, little is known about prefrontal brain activity during static muscular endurance tasks where aerobic capacity is not the limiting factor. Further, people often disengage from a straining activity although their physiological resources would allow them to continue. Perception of effort has been suggested as a limiting factor in endurance performance (Marcora & Staiano, 2010). From a self-control perspective this is plausible: Persisting while experiencing effort draws upon self-control; and constant maintenance of self-control affects motivational and volitional capacity to further persist on a straining task (Inzlicht, Schmeichel, & Macrae, 2014). The exertion of self-control has been linked with activation in prefrontal brain areas, primarily the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Thus, increased intensity is associated with an increase in DLPFC activation and self-control demands - up to a point where intensity is too hard to be sustained. In this exploratory research we use functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to continuously monitor DLPFC activity during an isometric contraction of the knee extensor at 15% of maximum voluntary contraction in a sample of 16 male participants. Further, we investigate how perception of effort is associated with task termination and DLPFC activity. Preliminary results indicate that cerebral oxygenation increases as a function of time on task and is correlated with perceived exertion. Our results indicate that cerebral oxygenation during a static muscular endurance task follows a similar pattern as in cardiovascular endurance tasks. In light of the different physiological demands of these two task types, physiological task demands don’t seem to be the sole influence on DLPFC activation as a function of exercise intensity. More likely, perception of effort is also associated with the characteristic DLPFC activation pattern found in the extant literature on prefrontal brain activity during exercise. Further research is needed to differentiate the role physiological boundaries and psychological variables play in determining endurance performance.
Motivational and volitional factors’ relevance for physical activity adherence and weight loss maintenance following an intense lifestyle intervention
University of Copenhagen
Obesity is considered a threat to the health and wellbeing of large parts of the population worldwide (WHO, 2000). Obesity is caused mainly by a combination of inadequate daily physical activity and an energy-rich diet (Due, Heitmann, & Sorensen, 2007). One approach to helping people suffering from obesity are intensive lifestyle interventions (ILI), in which the participants are educated in healthy living, and weight loss is promoted by increased physical activity and a healthy low-calorie diet. Numerous studies have shown that ILIs are effective in inducing a 10–15% weight loss over three to six month intervention periods (Christiansen et al., 2012), however, the major challenge is maintaining weight loss and adhering to an improved lifestyle in everyday life. The aim of this study was to explore how volitional and motivational factors influence physical activity and weight loss maintenance following a 12 week ILI for individuals battling obesity conducted at Ubberup Folk High School in Denmark. The participants’ (N = 164, 73% female) exercise specific motivation as well as volitional skills were measured with the Sport Motivation Scale (Pelletier, 1995) and the Volition in Exercise Questionnaire (Elsborg et al., 2016) before and after a three month ILI as well as six and 15 months after the begin of the intervention. A mixed model analysis was applied to investigate the development of physical activity and of Body Mass Index over the 15 month period. Results revealed that when adjusting for gender, age and education the six volitional scales and intrinsic motivation predicted BMI across the four time points, while six volitional scales and two extrinsic regulation scales showed a time interaction. Backward elimination multiple mixed model analysis revealed that Volitional Inhibition - Postponing training and Volitional Facilitation - Self-confidence predicted BMI development, while Volitional Inhibition - Unrelated thoughts, identified regulation and introjected regulation showed a time interaction above and beyond the other scales. The results of this study validate previous findings on the importance of self-regulation and autonomous motivation for physical activity and weight loss maintenance. However, the results also suggest that over time an individual’s exercise specific volitional skills are of more importance than exercise motivation. It therefore should be considered to include the training of volitional skills into the curriculum of ILIs.