An Intuitionist Model of Sport Motivation
Balish, Shea M
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Despite it’s increasingly established benefits, youth sport participation in Canada has declined. Researchers, practitioners, policy and decision makers have all highlighted the need to address declining participation, and that one strategy is to decrease dropout. However, the study of sport motivation has been dominated by “rationalist” models of motivation, claiming that motivation is the product of a rational decision-making process. The primary goal of this thesis was to develop and conduct initial tests of a novel model of sport motivation within the context of youth sport dropout. This goal was realized though four objectives. First, a systematic review of the correlates of youth sport attrition was conducted to aggregate what is known regarding youth sport attrition. Results from this review suggested that (a) the majority of correlates occur at the intra- and inter-personal level and align with rationalist models. The second objective was to develop a novel “intuitionist” model of sport motivation by synthesizing findings from disparate disciplines. This synthesis resulted in a novel, testable model of sport motivation which rests on two main postulates: (1) the mind is composed of regulatory systems that strategically produce intuitions that guide behaviour toward adaptive goals, and (2) intuitions emerging from these regulatory systems use reasoning as a tool to achieve their specific goals. The third objective was to examine if pride and shame better predict intentions to return to sport than do “basic needs”. Results suggested that, in fact, pride, but not shame, predicted intentions to return, and when accounted for, render the associations between “basic needs” and intentions to return insignificant. The fourth objective tested if prenatal testosterone exposure—as indexed by the ratio of one’s second digit to their fourth digit—is related to youth sport motivation, and if this relationship is mediated by feelings of self-assurance. Results from this study confirmed the hypothesized relationships. Overall, this thesis involved developing and testing a novel intuitionist model of sport motivation that will introduce a greater diversity of predictions, including those that contrast with rationalist models. In light of this intuitionist model, limitations and recommendations for future research are discussed.