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Motivation of high-achieving athletes and musicians: a person-context perspective

Beltman, Susan (2005) Motivation of high-achieving athletes and musicians: a person-context perspective. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This research explores how motivation is shaped at the interface of person and context, with a focus on motivation in sport and music. From a social cognitive perspective, motivation research traditionally focuses on factors within the individual, whereas a more situated conceptualisation requires that motivation be studied within a person in context perspective. This study combines elements of both perspectives. It is proposed that motivation is shaped at the interface of person and context, where individuals make appraisals of social (other people) and structural (physical or organisational) aspects of their environments. A holistic view of motivation is adopted that incorporates initial engagement, ongoing involvement and persistence.

One challenge in current motivation research is to develop appropriate methods to capture such a dynamic, complex construct. In this study, semi-structured interviews and innovative tasks are used to gather biographical and longitudinal data about high-achieving athletes and musicians from diverse settings.

The findings reveal that complex personal and contextual factors operate reciprocally and dynamically as individuals make ongoing appraisals of their current situations. For example, personal factors such as aptitude, and contextual factors such as the existence of community programs, operate in a reciprocal way to shape participants' initial engagement in sport or music. Complexity is highlighted when examining the role of a unique group of others in sport and music - onlookers (spectators or audience). A powerful effect on continuing involvement occurs when communities overlap and family members take on roles associated with onlookers. Participants face a range of potential problems in their lives and there are variations in the way these are perceived, in strategies and resources used, and in their impact on persistence. An important finding is the dynamic nature of motivation as the nature and extent of participants' involvement in sport or music changes over time.

In addition to deepening our understanding of how motivation is shaped at the interface of person and context, the study offers a unique methodological contribution and the findings have implications for enhancing motivation in applied settings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Volet, Simone
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