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Title:Young Children's Perceptions of Success and Failure
Author(s):Pascuzzi, Deborah Lou
Department / Program:Physical Education
Discipline:Physical Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:Because motivation is a primary concern of teachers and coaches of children in physical activity and sport settings, motivation and its accompanying behaviors have been popular areas of study in sport psychology. Regardless of the theory that is developed or applied, the individual's perception of what constitutes success and failure is essential to understanding motivational behavior. Consequently, the possibility that individuals may differ in their perceptions of success and failure has implications of both a theoretical and applied nature. One of the possible differences in perceptions of success and failure is that of age differences. Younger children may differ from older children and adults in their perceptions of success and failure. For example, preschool children engaging in impromptu running races often complete the race with the perception that they all won. The same race among school-age children, however, produces both winners and losers with all participants readily aware of which they are. The purpose of the present investigation was to directly examine the possibility of age differences in perceptions of success and failure. Because a running race requires the use of social comparison in determining success or failure, Veroff's (1969) contention that preschool children do not engage in social comparison may account for the apparent age difference in perceptions of success and failure described above. However, an examination of the empirical support for Veroff's contention revealed that the age difference in social comparison has not been adequately tested. Therefore, further examination of age differences in social comparison was a secondary purpose of this investigation. Subjects were 88 preschool children (41 girls, 47 boys) and 94 second and third grade children (47 girls, 47 boys). The task was a three-member running race. Children participated in the race in same-age, same-sex triads. It was hypothesized that the older children would perceive success and failure according to their finishing place in the race (i.e., via social comparison) while the younger children would not. Perceptions of success and failure were determined by the children's self-ratings of self-concept of running ability, affect, expectancy, persistence. The results revealed partial support for the hypothesis in that school-age children's perceptions of success and failue were related to their place in the race. That is, those finishing first had higher self-concepts, more positive affect, and higher expectancies than those finishing second or third. However, for preschool children only the girls results were in line with the hypothesis: Their self-ratings were not related to finishing place. Contrary to the hypothesis and to Veroff's contention, preschool boys did perceive success and failure according to their finishing place. The sex-difference among the preschool children was discussed in terms of: (a) sex-typing of the task on the part of the preschool boys, and (b) boys increased exposure to social comparison situations via the types of games preschool boys play as opposed to those engaged in by preschool girls. It was concluded that age-differences in perceptions of success and failure do exist. It was further concluded that Veroff's contention of age differences in social comparison cannot be accepted without first considering the child's sex and the task situation. The implications of the results of this investigation were discussed in terms of both theory and practical application.
Issue Date:1981
Description:52 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127664
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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