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Attainment Value and Developmental Experiences in Australian Youth Sport: Exploring the Role of Gender and Age

Drane, C.F. and Barber, B.L. (2011) Attainment Value and Developmental Experiences in Australian Youth Sport: Exploring the Role of Gender and Age. In: 17th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association (AHDA), 4-6 July 2011, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

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It has become evident that extracurricular activities play a role in the development of realworld skills and aid in the connection of young people to the society in which they live. The concurrent changes in the individual and their social environment, along with the transitional nature of adolescence, make adolescence ideal for studying developmental experiences. Sports have been identified as contexts that offer opportunities for adolescents to develop initiative, form an identity, and learn new skills as well as emotional competencies. The current study examined associations between attainment value (the importance attached to a task) and experiences in adolescent sport, and explored whether gender and year level moderated this association. The sample consisted of 994 students; 690 year ten students (380 female, 310 male); and 304 year twelve students (154 female, 150 male) drawn from 34 schools across Western Australia (mean age 15.8 years; SD = .98). Participants were asked to report the developmental experiences in adolescent sport in 4 domains: identity (exploration, reflection), initiative (goals, effort, and time management), team work and social skills and the negative experience of stress (Hansen, Larson, & Dworkin, 2003). Moderated multiple regression analysis revealed that higher levels of attainment value in sport predicted more experiences of identity, initiative, team work and social skills, and stress. In addition, both gender and year level moderated the attainment value and identity reflection link. The interaction was further probed, revealing that year 12 boys significantly differed from all other groups in the strength of the link between attainment value and identity reflection, which was strongest for year 12 boys. Although the capacity to selfreflect is developing throughout adolescence, it is possible that for adolescent males identity remains quite an abstract concept until the final year of high school, when they begin to make life changing decisions about employment, higher education, relationships, sexuality and morality. An increased capacity for identity reflection, and ultimately identity formation, becomes necessary rather than optional. The current findings indicate that the value or importance that an adolescent attaches to their sport may facilitate the psychological benefits experienced, especially for year 12 adolescent males in relation to reflecting on their identity.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: The authors
Copyright: The authors
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