Scope of Literature Review and Conceptual Framework

Scope of Literature Review and Conceptual Framework

Literature Review and field of study an analysis of the conceptual frame work

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Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
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Attributional Retraining Alters Novice Golfers’ Free
Practice Behavior
Olivier Rascle a; David Le Foll a; N. C. Higgins b
a Universit de Rennes,
b St. Thomas University,
Online Publication Date: 01 April 2008
To cite this Article: Rascle, Olivier, Foll, David Le and Higgins, N. C. (2008)
Attributional Retraining Alters Novice Golfers’ Free Practice Behavior’, Journal of
Applied Sport Psychology, 20:2, 157 . 164
To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/10413200701805307
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Copyright C Association for Applied Sport Psychology
ISSN: 1041-3200 print / 1533-1571 online
DOI: 10.1080/10413200701805307
Attributional Retraining Alters Novice Golfersf
Free Practice Behavior
UniversitLe de Rennes
St. Thomas University
This experiment examined the effects of a single attributional feedback on causal attributions,
expectations, and free-practice with novice participants in a golf putting task during perceived
failure. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups: (1) internal,
controllable, unstable attributional feedback; (2) external, uncontrollable, stable attributional
feedback; (3) nonattributional feedback. Participants completed four test trials consisting
of six putts each. Each trial was followed by a free-time period of 2 minutes, a measure
of expectations and free-practice. The results showed that it is possible to modify in a
functional or dysfunctional way, (a) novice participantsf attributions about perceived failure,
(b) expectations, and (c) free-practice behaviors.
Attributions are specific causes such as effort, task difficulty, ability, or luck that are
generated to explain an outcome, event, or behavior (Weiner, 1985). Causal attributions
vary along a number of dimensions that are gintrinsic propertiesh of the cause, and it is the
dimensions of attributions that play a key role in the motivation of behavior (e.g., FNorsterling,
1985;Weiner, 1985). Three empirically substantiated attributional dimensions are: (1) gLocus
of causalityh which refers to whether a cause is perceived to reside within (internal) or is
external to the (target) person; (2) gPersonal controllabilityh which refers to whether a cause
is perceived to be within (controllable) or beyond (uncontrollable) the target personfs control;
and (3) gStabilityh which refers to whether a cause is considered to be temporary (unstable)
or longlasting (stable) (Weiner, 1985).
In achievement contexts, attributional research has focused on understanding the links
between attributional dimensions and the improvement or deterioration of future performance
(see Perry, Hall, & Ruthig, 2005, for a review). According to Weiner (1992), gif causal
attributions do influence achievement strivings, then a change in attributions should produce
a change in behaviourh (p. 264). gAttributional retrainingh research has triggered numerous
applications in sport and academic contexts aimed atmodifying individualsf problem behaviors
by modifying their causal attributions about successes and failures, with promising results (e.g.,
BiIDle, Hanrahan, & Sellars, 2001; Miserandino, 1998; Orbach, Singer, & Murphey, 1997;
Orbach, Singer, &Price, 1999; Sinnott &BiIDle, 1998). For example, encouraging individuals
to attribute their sports failures to internal, controllable, and unstable (ICU) causes resulted
Received 18 April 2006; accepted 4 March 2007.
AIDress correspondence to Olivier Rascle, Centre de Recherches sur lfEducation, les Apprentissages,
et la Didactique (CREAD, EA 3875), UFR STAPS, 2, France. E-mail:
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in improved performance, whereas encouraging individuals to attribute sports failures to
external, uncontrollable, and stable (EUS) causes resulted in deterioration of performance (e.g.,
Miserandino, 1998; Orbach et al., 1999). Thus, ICU attributions are considered gfunctionalh
because they tend to produce improved performance, while EUS attributions are considered
gdysfunctionalh because they tend to produce decrements in performance (Rudisill, 1989;
Rudisill & Singer, 1988).
Attributional retraining studies typically involve standardized feedback from an observer
(usually the experimenter). These studies have used multiple occurrences of feedback in either
one feedback session (e.g., Rudisill & Singer, 1988) or more than one feedback session
(Orbach et al., 1997; 1999). However, none of these studies have examined the effects of a
single feedback occurrence. Thus, it is unknown whether the observed effects of attributional
retraining are due to the type of feedback itself or to an interaction of repetition and feedbacktype.
The aim of the present study was to examine whether a single occurrence of functional
or dysfunctional attributional feedback would be sufficient to produce a change in novice
golfersf free-practice behavior. The present study focused on free-practice behavior because
free-practice has not previously been investigated in attributional retraining studies in sports
contexts. Performance has typically been the focus of these studies, although in everyday
life free-practice typically precedes improvements in performance. Moreover, free-practice
behavior is an indicator of personal interest in a sport whereas performance behavior carries
no necessary connotation of underlying interest.
The present study measured the effects of a single occurrence of either functional (ICU)
or dysfunctional (EUS) attributional feedback on novicesf causal attributions, expectations of
success, and free-practice in a golf-putting task during perceived failure. It has been amply
demonstrated that higher levels of persistence (e.g., free practice) under failure are linked to
higher expectations of success (e.g., Bandura, 1986; Dweck & Leggett, 1988). Thus, it was
anticipated that, after perceived failure at a new sport, ICU feedback would promote higher
success expectancies and a higher amount of free-practice whereas EUS feedback would
produce lower expectancies of success and a lower amount of free-practice.
Forty-one male students (M = 18.9 years, SD = 1.02), all registered in 1st year at the
University of Sport Sciences in the north of France, agreed to take part in the study. All
participants were novices in golf putting.
Reliable pre-intervention and post-intervention measures of attributions, expectations, and
free-practice, and an experimental design with standardized procedures were used to assess
the effects of attributional feedback on the pre- and post-intervention differences within and
between groups.
Causal Attributions
The Echelle de Mesure des Attributions Causales (EMAC; Fontayne, Martin-Krumm,
Buton, & HeuzLe, 2003) was used in this study to evaluate causal attributions. The EMAC is
the validated French version of the Causal Dimension Scale 2 (CDS 2, McAuley, Duncan, &
Russell, 1992) and its full description, use, and scoring are described elsewhere (e.g., Le Foll,
Rascle, & Higgins, 2006). In the present study, reliability coefficients (coefficient Æ’¿fs) were
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.82, .81, .85, and .83 for the EMAC Locus of causality (L), Personal Control (PC), Stability
(S), and External Control (EC) scales, respectively.
Expectations of Success
Participants were asked to indicate on a scale from 0% to 100% how well they expected to
perform on their next attempt at six putts.
Free-practicewas assessed, for each participant, by aIDing the number of times a participant
engaged in the putting task during a given free-time period of 2 minutes. During this period,
the experimenter stepped into an adjoining room and was out of sight. To be able to observe,
a posteriori, the activity of participants during the free-practice periods, a video camera
filmed each participantfs entire session in the laboratory. The participants were informed of
the presence of the camera at the beginning of the study and were filmed throughout their
entire experimental session (and not just during the free-practice period). Participants were
not informed that free-practice was being measured/observed. As far as they were concerned,
the free-practice period was just a gbreakh and the fact that the camera was on was incidental.
The participants believed we were interested in viewing their performance during the putting
trials, not their gbreakh behavior. The participants could refuse to be filmed. None used this
Performance was assessed, for each participant, as the average distance between the
target and the ball across six putts (see Putting Task below). It was important to
ensure that the participants would fail to significantly improve during the trials so that
possible post-intervention modifications in cognitions and behavior could not be attributed
to an increase in performance. Performance was analyzed using a 3 ~ 4 (Group ~ Time)
analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures on the last factor and did not reveal any
significant change in putting performance during the investigation. There were no significant
main effects or interactions.
Participants were randomly assigned into one of three treatment groups: a nonattributional
feedback group (NA group, N = 13), an internal/controllable/unstable feedback group (ICU
group, N = 14), and an external/uncontrollable/stable feedback group (EUS group, N = 14).
There were no differences between these three experimental groups on any of the dependent
measures prior to the attributional feedback intervention. There was no evidence of treatment
group differences on any of the dependent measures prior to the attributional feedback
treatment: attribution dimensions, R(6,72) = .82, n.s., expectancy of success, F(2,38) =
.08, n.s., and free-practice F(2,38) = .33, n.s.
Putting Task
The putting task took place on a carpet in a laboratory and consisted of carrying out six
putts successively. The objective of each putt was to make the ball stop on the target if possible.
The target was a circle (the gholeh) two inches in diameter, drawn on the ground approximately
five meters away from the starting place. As shown in Figure 12, participants completed four
trials of six putts each (Trials 12, 2, 3, 4) interspersed with three 2-minute free-practice periods
(Free-practice 12, 2, 3). Before and after each trial, the instruction to gtry to achieve the best
performance you canh was repeated to the participants. Causal attributions were assessed
after the first (i.e., Attributions 1: pre-intervention) and the last trial (i.e., Attributions 2:
post-intervention). Expectations of success were measured four times, once after each trial
(Expectations 12, 2, 3, 4). The attributions and success expectancy measures taken after Trial 1
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Figure 1. A schematic overview of the experimental procedure.
allowed the researchers to know how people were responding immediately after experiencing
failure but before the influence of any attributional feedback. The first item on the EMAC asks
participants on a binary rating scale whether they considered their performance on the task
to be grather like a successh or grather like a failureh Notably, all participants in the present
study perceived their performance in the pretest putting task to be grather like a failureh.
Attributional Feedback
The attributional feedback was delivered between the second and the third trial (see
Figure 1). Each group was provided with standardized oral feedback by the experimenter.
For the ICU group participants, the experimenter stated the following:
gThe causes of your performance in this putting task seems to reflect mostly internal,
controllable, and unstable factors, such as your concentration, effort, the strategy you used
to try to succeed in the task, or other factors internal to you. As you know, you have control
over the effort you put into the task or the strategy you use, and the intensity of your effort or
concentration might change over time.h
For the EUS group participants, the experimenter stated the following:
gThe causes of your performance in this putting task seems to reflect mostly external,
uncontrollable, and stable factors, such as the task difficulty or other factors external to you.
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As you know, these kinds of factors are things you are not able to control and they donft change
over time.h
The NA groups received feedback that involved only general details regarding the task and
no attributional information.
Significant univariate effects were followed up with contrast analysis and t-tests when
necessary. Measures of effect size (partial eta-squared (Æ’Ã…2)) for univariate analyses, and
population point biserial correlation (ƒÏpb) coefficients for t-tests were also examined for
all significant effects. Based on the criteria outlined by Kirk (1996), Æ’Ã…2 values of .010, .059
and .138, and ƒÏpb values of .10, .24 and .37 were taken as corresponding to small, medium,
and large effect sizes, respectively. The probability of Type I error was maintained at .05 for
all analyses. All contrasts and t-tests were adjusted to control for inflation of the Type I error
Causal attributions were analyzed using a 3 ~ 2 (Group ~ Time) multi-variate analysis
of variance (MANOVA) with repeated measures on the last factor. The analyses revealed a
significant Group ~ Time interaction, R(8,70) = 3.06, p < .005, whereby significant differences
were evidenced by a univariate F test for glocus of causalityh, F(2,38) = 8.88, Æ’Ã…2 = .31,
p<.001, gpersonal controllabilityh, F(2,38)=3.25, Æ’Ã…2 =.15, p<.05, and gstabilityh, F(2,38)
= 4.85, Æ’Ã…2 = .20, p < .01. As shown in Table 12, the ICU group attributed its performance
to more internal causes after rather than before the attributional intervention, t(13) = 3.76,
ƒÏpb = .72, p < .002, while the EUS group attributed its performance to more external causes,
t(13) = .2.22, ƒÏpb = .52, p < .04, to less personally controllable causes, t(13) = .2.18,
ƒÏpb = .51, p < .04, and to more stable causes, t(13) = 2.68, ƒÏpb = .59, p < .02, after
rather than before the intervention. Moreover, the EUS group generated more external causes
than the ICU group, t(26) = 4.13, ƒÏpb = .63, p < .001, and the NA group, t(25) = .1.85,
Table 1
Means (and Standard Deviations) of Attributional Dimension Scores for the Three
Treatment Groups After Trial 1 (Pre-Intervention) and Trial 4 (Post-Intervention)
Attributional Feedback Group
Attributions 1 (Pre-intervention)
Locus of causality 3.12 (1.59) 2.95 (1.76) 3.64 (2.25)
Personal controllability 2.77 (0.71) 3.14 (2.36) 2.79 (1.15)
Stability 5.45 (1.72) 6.43 (1.99) 6.38 (1.77)
Attributions 2 (Post-intervention)
Locus of causality 1.95 (0.71) 4.50 (2.19) 3.02 (1.86)
Personal controllability 2.43 (1.58) 4.74 (2.13) 3.51 (1.82)
Stability 6.10 (1.19) 5.05 (2.31) 5.69 (2.16)
Notes: NA = Non-Attributional feedback; ICU = Internal, Controllable, Unstable feedback; EUS = External,
Uncontrollable, Stable feedback. On the EMAC = Echelle de Mesure des Attributions Causales lower scores
on the Locus and Personal Controllability dimensions and higher scores on the Stability dimension represent
more functional attributions.
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Figure 2. The interaction of Group (NA, ICU, EUS) and Time (Pre-intervention, Post-intervention
2, Post-intervention 3) on free practice in a putting task.
ƒÏpb = .35, p < .05, and less personally controllable causes than ICU group, t(26) = 3.26, ƒÏpb
= .54, p < .003, after rather than before the intervention.
Expectations of successwere analyzed using a 3~4 (Group~Time)ANOVAwith repeated
measures on the last factor. The analysis revealed a significant Group ~ Time interaction,
F(6114) = 12.45, Æ’Ã…2 = 39, p < .001. The ICU group had higher expectations of success
after Trial 4 than after Trial 12, MICUtrial 1 = 47.5 vs MICUtrial 4 = 60.7, t(13) = .5.32,
ƒÏpb = .82, p < .001. In comparison, the EUS group had lower expectations of success after
the attributional intervention than before it, MEUStrial 1 = 55.3 vs MEUStrial 4 = 31.0,
t(13) = 4.05, ƒÏpb = .74, p < .001. Moreover, after Trial 4 (i.e., post-intervention), the EUS
group expected to perform less well in the future compared to the ICU group, MEUStrial 4 =
31.0 vs MICUtrial 4 = 60.7, t(26) = .4.45, ƒÏpb = .65, p < .001, and to the NA group,
MEUStrial 4 = 31.0 vs MNAtrial 4 = 47.0, t(25) = 1.96, ƒÏpb = .37, p < .05.
Free-practice was analyzed using a 3~3 (Group~Times) ANOVA with repeated measures
on the last factor. The ANOVA revealed a significant Group ~ Time interaction, F(4,76) =
6.42, Æ’Ã…2 = .25, p < .001. As shown in Figure 2, (i) the ICU group practiced significantly more
after rather than before the intervention, MICUperiod 1 = 4.14 vs MICUperiod 3 = 5.50,
t(13)=.2.09, ƒÏpb = .50, p < .05, whereas (ii) the EUS group practiced significantly less after
than before the intervention, MEUSperiod 1 = 4.50 vs MEUSperiod 3 = 2.14, t(13) = 3.04,
ƒÏpb = .64, p < .01. In aIDition, the ICU group practiced more than the EUS group during
free-practice period 3, t(26)=.2.67, ƒÏpb = .46, p < .01.
It should be noted that the magnitude of the effect sizes is substantial for the within- and
between-subjects contrasts on all of the dependent measures.
The results of the present study corroborate and extend those of other investigations (e.g.,
Miserandino, 1998; Orbach et al., 1997, 1999) by showing that it is possible to modify the
causal attributions of people in a direction consistent with the attributional feedback, even if
the feedback occurs only once. After the attributional feedback, the ICU and EUS groups had
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significantly altered their attributions, and differed significantly from one another in the types of
causes they used for their putting failures. By comparison, the NA group remained unchanged
in its attributions for failure during the experiment. The improvement or deterioration in
expectancies and free-practice that occurred subsequent to the attributional feedback supports
the idea that it is the change in participantsf attributions that started a cascade of improvement
or deterioration, as Weinerfs (1985) theory suggests.
The novelty of the present findings is two-fold. First, they demonstrate that a single
occurrence of functional or dysfunctional attributional feedback provided by an observer
is sufficient to modify peoplefs causal attributions and success expectancies. Second, they
demonstrate that attributional feedback produced changes in free-practice behavior.a type
of behavior that has not previously been examined in attribution retraining studies but that is
an indicator of interest in an activity and a precursor of improvements (or deterioration) in
performance. The finding that a simple attributional statement has such important effects on
the cognitions and behaviors of novice golfers is underscored by the large effect sizes in our
small sample of participants.
In many cases, people are confronted with new activities or situations in which they have
no previous experience, such as pupils in physical education classes. The present study offers
valuable information to trainers, coaches, or teachers in sport or physical activity contexts
who are able to influence the causal attributions of novice learners when those attributions
are inappropriate for, or detrimental to, achievement. For instance, a better understanding of
the nature and impact of functional and dysfunctional attributions would allow teachers and
coaches to help students or athletes who may be inclined to withdraw from an activity after
repeated failure.
An interesting perspective for future research might be to compare the influence of a single
attributional feedback occurrence on experienced versus novice participants. Onemight expect
that, in comparison with experts in a sport, novices (lacking information about the possible
causes that could produce a failure in a new activity or task) may be more influenced by a
single attributional feedback statement from a teacher or coach.




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