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How motivational states are embodied in a golf putting task

Performing with a desirable motivational state can be the difference between winning or losing a tight sporting event. Research in sports psychology has previously outlined the benefits of performing with approach motivation, along with the negative impacts of operating with avoidance motivation. Recent research has also considered relationships between motivational states and asked how athlete behaviours embody approach or avoidance motivation. However, there is a shortage of research that identifies signs that an athlete is operating in a state of approach or avoidance motivation. The aim of this thesis is to reduce the gap in the existing literature by using a behavioural perspective to identify how motivational states are embodied by experienced golfers in a golf putting task. Two studies were conducted, using a situational and instructional intervention to induce either approach or avoidance motivation in participants. In Study 1, a between subjects design was used to assess how approach and avoidance motivational states were embodied. The results of Study 1 revealed that participants in the avoidance group leaned further backwards following the situational intervention designed to induce avoidance motivation. However, no effect was found for the intervention that was designed to induce approach motivation. Participants in the avoidance group showed better performance and longer preparation time than participants in the approach condition. These findings were driven by differences in the level of expertise between the two groups. Study 2 was therefore designed to rectify this problem by increasing the difficulty of the putting task. However, as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis it was not possible to complete the study. Body postures, such as forward and backward leaning may be influenced by motivational states, but further research is required to gain a better understanding of how motivational states are embodied. Despite a failure to find iii support for forms of embodiment beyond leaning, future research should not discount the merit of other potential avenues such as preparation time and proximity.
Type of thesis
Holt, G. (2020). How motivational states are embodied in a golf putting task (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14274
The University of Waikato
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