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Br J Educ Psychol. 2006 Jun;76(Pt 2):369-84.

Situational state balances and participation motivation in youth sport: a reversal theory perspective.

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Institute of Human Performance, The University of Hong Kong, 111-113 Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong.



Reversal theory (Apter, 1982, 1989, ) is one of the motivational frameworks which attempts to examine human subjective experiences and behaviours. There are four dyads of metamotivational states (telic-paratelic, conformist-negativistic, autic-alloic, and mastery-sympathy) and individuals may prefer to be in one rather than the other of a dyad of states in a specific context such as sport participation (i.e. situational state balances).


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between situational state balances and motives for sport and physical activity participation in adolescents using the theoretical framework of reversal theory. Their participation motives and the interacting factors of their situational state balances, gender, and level of participation were examined.


Secondary school students (N=1,235) aged about 14 to 20 years who participated in competitive or recreational sport completed the Participation Motivation Inventory (Gill, Gross, & Huddleston, 1983) to assess their motives for sport and physical activity participation, and the Apter Motivational Style Profile (Apter International, 1999) to assess their situational state balances.


Factor analysis of the participation motives yielded factors to which MANOVAs and ANOVAs were applied with situational state balance, gender, and participation level as independent variables.


Factor analysis resulted in seven motive factors: status, team/friend, excitement/challenge, skill, energy release, fitness, and situational factors. MANOVAs and ANOVAs indicated significant differences in the sport motives between the situational state balances, genders, and levels of participation, and between pairs of situational state balance groups in males and females of competitive and recreational level. The autic-alloic dyad produced the strongest motive strength differences of the four pairs.


The variable of situational state balances is significantly linked with participation motives in sport.

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