Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology

Basic Need Satisfaction and Motivation In Sport

Nicolas Gillet
Laboratoire de Psychologie Appliquée
UFR STAPS
Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne

&

Elisabeth Rosnet
Laboratoire de Psychologie Appliquée
Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne

ABSTRACT

Introduction

Method

Results

Discussion

References

ABSTRACT

The purpose of investigation was to examine the relationships between competitive and recreational sport structures, gender, individual and team sports, level of competition, sport motivation and athletes’ perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness in order to enhance our knowledge of the motivational processes in sport. Two hundred and eighty-eight athletes completed the French version of the Sport Motivation Scale and the Basic Psychological Needs in Sport Scale. Results revealed that female athletes felt less competent and demonstrated less external regulation than males, while exhibiting more intrinsic motivation than this group. In addition, they showed that recreational athletes felt more autonomous and had fewer scores on external regulation than competitive athletes. Differences in the levels of competition also emerged. Specifically, athletes at the district level displayed less intrinsic motivation and less external regulation than athletes at the regional level. District level athletes also exhibited less intrinsic motivation, less introjected regulation, and less external regulation than national level athletes. Results are discussed in light of self-determination theory and past studies conducted in the sport context. Several directions for future research are also offered.

Introduction

       Self-determination theory examines the effects of the social context on motivation and individual behaviors (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Grounded in this framework, numerous studies in the last 20 years have investigated individuals’ motivation in a variety of settings and activities. According to Vallerand and Fortier (1998), self-determination theory is especially helpful in studying individual patterns of sport participation. People may engage in activities for different reasons. Athletes are intrinsically motivated when they engage in an activity for the pleasure and satisfaction derived from the activity itself, whereas extrinsic motivation describes behaviors performed to attain material or social rewards. The understanding of human behavior also involves considering amotivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). When people are amotivated, they do not perceive a relationship between their actions and the resulting outcomes. Consequently, they no longer identify any good reasons for practicing their sport (Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, Tuson, Brière, & Blais, 1995).

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

       According to self-determination theory, intrinsically motivated behavior is associated with satisfaction of three psychological needs (Deci & Ryan, 1991; Ryan & Deci, 2000). The need for autonomy reflects the need to perceive behavior as freely chosen (deCharms, 1968). The need for competence refers to the urge to effectively interact with the social environment (White, 1959). The need for relatedness pertains to the desire to feel connected with other individuals (Richer & Vallerand, 1998). Vallerand and his colleagues (Vallerand, Blais, Brière, & Pelletier, 1989; Vallerand, Pelletier, Blais, Brière, Senécal, & Vallières, 1992) suggested that three dimensions of intrinsic motivation exist: intrinsic motivation to know, intrinsic motivation to accomplish things, and intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation. Firstly, intrinsic motivation to know involves engaging in sport for pleasure and satisfaction experienced while one is learning and exploring something new. Secondly, intrinsic motivation to accomplish things operates when one is engaged in an activity for the pleasure derived from trying to surpass oneself or to improve skills. Thirdly, intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation refers to engaging in sport in order to experience the pleasant sensations derived from the activity itself. In the sport domain, many studies have corroborated this tripartite conceptualization of intrinsic motivation (Brière, Vallerand, Blais, & Pelletier, 1995; Pelletier et al., 1995).

       Extrinsic motivation is also considered to be a multidimensional construct. Deci and Ryan (1985) have identified fours forms of extrinsic motivation that can be classified on the self-determination continuum from high to low levels of self-determination. These different types of extrinsic motivation (e.g., integrated regulation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, and external regulation) occupy the continuum between intrinsic motivation and amotivation. Research in sport has supported the presence of this continuum (Chatzisarantis, Hagger, Biddle, Smith, & Wang, 2003; Li & Harmer, 1996). Firstly, integrated regulation deals with behaviors that are so integrated in one’s life that they are part of the individual’s self and value system. Secondly, identified regulation reflects participation in an activity because one holds outcomes of the behavior to be personally significant, although one may not enjoy the activity itself. Thirdly, introjected regulation refers to behaviors that are partly internalized by the individual but that remain non-self-determined because contingencies from external control sources have been internalized without having been endorsed by the person. Finally, external regulation characterizes behaviors that are controlled by external sources such as rewards (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Determinants of motivation

       Cognitive evaluation theory (Deci, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1985), a subtheory within the larger self-determination theory, details the environmental factors that promote and undermine the development of intrinsic motivation trough their impacts on perceptions of competence and autonomy. According to Deci and Ryan (1985), when there is a shift from an internal to an external perceived locus of causality, one’s feelings of self-determination and consequently, one’s intrinsic motivation toward the activity decreases. The concept of perceived locus of causality refers to the degree to which individuals feel that they are the origin of their own behavior (Deci & Ryan, 1985). On the one hand, when athletes experience an internal locus of causality, their actions are self-determined and volitional. On the other hand, when they experience an external locus of causality, the initiation of behavior is influenced by external factors.

       In the sport domain, many environmental and interpersonal factors (e.g., rewards, coaches’ behaviors) may affect athletes’ feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness, and, in turn, intrinsic motivation (for a review, see Vallerand & Losier, 1999). For instance, scholarship athletes exhibited higher levels of perceived competence (Hollembeak & Amorose, 2005) and intrinsic motivation (Amorose & Horn, 2000) than nonscolarship athletes. Sport competition also constitutes a social factor that may affect feelings of autonomy and intrinsic motivation because emphasizing winning at all costs may lead individuals to adopt an external perceived locus of causality. Vallerand, Gauvin and Halliwell (1986a) have conducted a research to examine the effects of competition on intrinsic motivation. Twenty-three subjects aged between 10 and 12 years were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: competition or intrinsic-mastery orientation. The task was a stabilometer motor task. In the competition condition, subjects were told that they were competing against other participants. In the intrinsic-mastery condition, subjects were encouraged to perform as well as they could. The amount of time spent on the stabilometer during a free-choice period served as the dependent measure of intrinsic motivation. Results revealed that participants in the intrinsic mastery condition were more intrinsically motivated than those in the competition condition.

       Fortier, Vallerand, Brière and Provencher (1995) have examined the relationships between competitive and recreational sport structures, gender, and athletes’ sport motivation. Participants were 399 athletes aged between 17 and 25 years and involved in four different sport activities (soccer, basketball, volleyball, and badminton). Results revealed that recreational athletes demonstrated more intrinsic motivation to accomplish things and to experience stimulation than competitive athletes, while exhibiting less identified regulation and less amotivation than this group. Many other studies have clearly revealed that competition undermined individuals’ intrinsic motivation (e.g., Deci, Betley, Kahle, Abrams, & Porac, 1981; Vallerand, Gauvin, & Halliwell, 1986b). However, when competition represents an interesting challenge, one’s intrinsic motivation may be boosted (Reeve & Deci, 1996; Tauer & Harackiewicz, 1999, 2004; Weinberg & Ragan, 1979). For instance, results from four studies conducted by Tauer and Harackiewicz (2004) with boys from a youth basketball camp showed that intergroup competition was consistently conducive to intrinsic motivation.

       According to Vallerand (2007), measurement and methodological issues could explain the inconsistent findings in the literature. Deci and Ryan (1985) also suggested that competition may enhance or reduce intrinsic motivation functions of individual perceptions of the competitive situation. As a consequence, Vallerand (2007) considers that future studies are required to better understand and analyze the effects of competition on intrinsic motivation. In accordance with Vallerand’s (1997) postulates, we consider that researchers need to take into consideration perceptions of competence, autonomy and relatedness in order to understand and explain the links between competition and motivation in the sport context. However, a few studies in sport have included both environmental factors and basic need satisfaction as predictors of motivation (e.g., Hollembeak & Amorose, 2005; Sarrazin, Vallerand, Guillet, Pelletier, & Cury, 2002). In addition, all of these motivational studies have used scales developed and validated in other contexts in order to measure these feelings because there was not a scale for measuring perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness in the sport domain.

       For instance, Sarrazin and his colleagues (2002) have used four items adapted from the Perceived Competence in Life Domains Scale (Losier, Vallerand & Blais, 1993) to assess feelings of competence. To assess perceived autonomy, three items adapted from the Perceived Autonomy toward Life Domains Scale (Blais & Vallerand, 1991) were used. To assess perceptions of relatedness, four items adapted from the Feelings of Relatedness Scale (Richer & Vallerand, 1998) were used. Recently, Gillet, Rosnet and Vallerand (under revision) have developed and validated the Basic Need Satisfaction in Sport Scale to measure perceptions of competence, autonomy and relatedness in the sport context. Although other studies are needed to support the structure, the reliability and the construct validity of this scale, this questionnaire should allow researchers to test postulates from self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2002) in the sport domain.

The present study

       The first purpose of the present investigation was to analyze the relationships between competitive and recreational sport structures, perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness, and the different forms of motivation. As mentioned above, we consider that it was necessary to go beyond the Fortier and her colleagues’ (1995) work by including athletes’ perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in order to examine the relationships between competition and motivation in sport. According to cognitive evaluation theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and past studies (Deci et al., 1981; Fortier et al., 1995; Vallerand et al., 1986a), it was hypothesized that competitive athletes would perceive themselves less autonomous and would display a less self-determined motivational profile than recreational athletes.

       The second purpose of this research was to identify motivational differences across gender because, according to Fortier and her colleagues (1995), it seems important to consider gender differences in motivational regulations in sport. These researchers have shown that male athletes reported lower levels of intrinsic motivation to accomplish things and identified regulation but higher levels of external regulation and amotivation than females. More generally, some research has provided data suggesting that male athletes exhibited a less self-determined motivation than female athletes (e.g., Brière et al., 1995; Chantal, Guay, Dobreva-Martinova, & Vallerand, 1996; Pelletier et al., 1995). In the same way, the results of Hollembeak and Amorose’s (2005) study showed that compared to males, females reported higher scores on autonomy, relatedness, and intrinsic motivation. In line with past investigations, it was hypothesized that female athletes would display a higher self-determined profile than males. It was also hypothesized that they would perceive themselves more autonomous and connected to each other, than male athletes.

       Contrary to Fortier and her colleagues’ (1995) research, the present study is not restricted to the relationships between competitive and recreational sport structures, gender, and individuals’ motivation in order to provide a more complete understanding of the motivational processes involved in athletes’ behavior. Indeed, we consider that motivational differences could be due to the nature of the sport activities (e.g., individual versus collective sports) and the level of competition (e.g., district, regional, or national levels). Thus, the third purpose of our investigation was to analyze the relationships between perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness, and the different types of motivation for individual and team sport athletes. A tennis player must choose and individually register for the competitions he wants to participate. Conversely, a basket-ball player is not concerned with this problem because schedule of play is determined by the Basket-Ball Federation. In consequence, participation in individual sports should enhance feelings of autonomy. Thus, we hypothesized that athletes involved in team sports to be less autonomous than the ones in individual sports.

       Finally, the fourth purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships between levels of competition (i.e., district, regional, or national levels), perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness, and the different forms of motivation. Does an athlete engaged in national competitions play a match for the same reasons as a competitive athlete who plays at a regional level? Chantal and his colleagues (1996), in a sample of Bulgarian athletes, have reported that higher performing athletes (i.e., title and medal holders in national and international events) exhibited significantly higher levels of external regulation than those who did not win titles or medals in national and international competitions. Based on these findings, it was hypothesized that athletes at the lowest level of competition (i.e., district level) would display less external regulation than the ones involved in sport activities at higher levels (i.e., regional and national levels).

Method

Participants

       Two hundred and eighty-eight athletes (83 females and 205 males; M age = 19.4 years, SD = 1.47) participated in this study. Participants were enrolled at two French universities. One hundred and fifty students were involved in team sports and 138 in individual sports. The sample was made up of 232 competitive athletes, including 52 females and 180 males, and 56 recreational athletes, including 31 females and 25 males. Sixty-six competitive athletes were ranked at the district level, 114 were at the regional level, and 52 were at the national level. Athletes at district level trained on average 4.22 hours (SD = 1.72) per week, athletes at regional level trained on average 5.35 hours (SD = 2.54) per week, and athletes at national level trained on average 8.53 hours (SD = 4.53) per week.

Measures

       Athletes completed the French version of the Sport Motivation Scale (SMS; Brière et al., 1995). This questionnaire measures seven types of motivation, namely intrinsic motivation to know, intrinsic motivation to accomplish things, intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation, and amotivation. The SMS does not include the construct of integrated regulation even though Pelletier and Kabush (2005, cited in Pelletier & Sarrazin, 2007) have attempted to develop an integrated regulation subscale. Items are scored on a seven-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (does not correspond at all) to 7 (corresponds exactly). Previous research in sport has provided support for the factorial structure and the reliability of this scale (Brière et al., 1995; Li & Harmer, 1996; Pelletier et al., 1995). In the present study, Cronbach alpha coefficients (Cronbach, 1951) for the seven subscales were calculated, and all internal consistencies ranged from .68 to .89. Because, there were no specific hypotheses about the intrinsic regulations, the three intrinsic components (i.e., intrinsic motivation to know, intrinsic motivation to accomplish things, and intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation) were combined into a single intrinsic motivation score (α = .90).

       The Basic Need Satisfaction in Sport Scale (Gillet et al., under revision) was used to measure athletes’ feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This instrument is composed of three subscales assessing these three perceptions. There are five items per subscale (i.e., a total of fifteen items). The response scale has a Likert format ranging from 1 (not at all true) to 7 (very true). Recently, Gillet and his colleagues (under revision) have provided evidence for the factorial structure, the construct validity and the internal consistency of this questionnaire. In the present investigation, all Cronbach alpha coefficients were above the minimum criterion of .70 (Nunnally, 1978). The internal consistency values were .71 for competence, .82 for autonomy, and .81 for relatedness.

Procedure

       Participation in this investigation was voluntary. After obtaining informed consent, all of the athletes completed a series of questionnaires individually at the beginning of a training session. The athletes were informed that there were no right or wrong replies. They were also assured that their answers would remain anonymous and confidential.

Results

       A 2 x 8 multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to determine significant differences between competitive and recreational athletes on eight dependant variables (perceptions of competence, autonomy and relatedness, as well as intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation and amotivation). Results revealed significant differences between competitive and recreational athletes, F(8, 276) = 4.30, p < .001. Univariate F values indicated that competitive and recreational athletes differed on external regulation, FF(1, 283) = 11.65, p < .001, and perceived autonomy, F(1, 283) = 17.75, p < .001. Specifically, competitive athletes felt less autonomous and demonstrated more external regulation than recreational athletes. Means and standard deviations for the different subscales are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Basic Need

       A 2 x 8 MANOVA was conducted with the three basic needs (i.e., autonomy, competence and relatedness) and the five types of motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation and amotivation) as dependent variables, and gender as the independent variable. Results indicated significant differences between males and females, F(8, 276) = 4.98, p < .001. Univariate F values indicated that male and female athletes differed on intrinsic motivation, F(1, 283) = 4.02, p < .05, external regulation, F(1, 283) = 16.39, p < .001, and perceived competence, F(1, 283) = 7.19, p < .01. Specifically, male athletes felt more competent and exhibited more external regulation than females, while demonstrating less intrinsic motivation than this group. Means and standard deviations for the different subscales are described in Table 2.

Table 2 Basic Need

       A 2 x 8 MANOVA was conducted with the three needs (i.e., autonomy, competence and relatedness) and the five forms of motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation and amotivation) as dependent variables, and the nature of the sport activities (e.g., individual versus collective sports) as the independent variable. Results indicated significant differences between athletes in individual and team sports, F(8, 276) = 12.31, p < .001. Univariate F values indicated that athletes in individual and team sports differed on perceived autonomy, F(1, 283) = 92.03, p < .001. Specifically, athletes involved in team sports felt less autonomous than the ones in individual sports. Means and standard deviations for the different subscales are described in Table 3.

Table 3 Basic Need

       A 2 x 8 MANOVA was conducted with the three needs (i.e., autonomy, competence and relatedness) and the five types of motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation and amotivation) as dependent variables, and the level of competition (e.g., district, regional, or national levels) as the independent variable. Results indicated significant differences between athletes at district, regional and national levels, F(16, 436) = 2.16, p < .01. Univariate F values indicated that athletes differed on intrinsic motivation, F(2, 225) = 5.90, p < .01, introjected regulation, F(2, 225) = 5.13, p < .01, and external regulation, F(2, 225) = 3.87, p < .05. Newman-Keuls post hoc comparisons were conducted to determine which of the three level groups differed on these variables (Games & Howell, 1976). Firstly, no significant differences between the regional and national levels emerged among the study variables. Secondly, athletes at regional level displayed more intrinsic motivation and more external regulation than the ones at district level. Finally, athletes at district level exhibited less intrinsic motivation, less introjected regulation, and less external regulation than the ones at national level.

Table 4 Basic Need

       Four factorial MANOVAs were conducted to test sport structure (i.e., competitive versus recreational) x gender, nature of activities x gender, nature of activities x level of competition and gender x level of competition interactions on eight dependant variables (i.e., perceived autonomy, perceived competence, perceived relatedness, intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation, and amotivation). No significant differences emerged. A 2 x 2 x 8 MANOVA was also conducted to determine significant differences between competitive and recreational athletes, as well as between athletes in individual and team sports on the three needs (i.e., autonomy, competence and relatedness) and the five types of motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation and amotivation). Results revealed significant differences, F(8, 274) = 2.79, p < .01. Univariate F values indicated that athletes differed on autonomy, F(1, 281) = 7.97, p < .01. Tukey’s HSD post hoc procedure was used for pairwise comparisons between the different groups (Keselman & Rogan, 1977). Firstly, no significant differences emerged between competitive athletes engaged in individual sports and recreational athletes involved in team sports. Secondly, recreational athletes engaged in individual and team sports and competitive athletes involved in individual sports felt more autonomous than competitive athletes engaged in team sports.

Discussion

       The first purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationships between competitive and recreational sport structures, and athletes’ perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness, as well as motivation. In line with the first hypothesis, results revealed that recreational athletes felt more autonomous and exhibited less external regulation than competitive athletes. The present results showed that competitive athlete’s behaviors were regulated by external factors such as material or financial rewards. Our results also provided support for the cognitive evaluation theory’s (Deci, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1985) predictions about competitive structures. Indeed, according to Deci & Ryan (1985), when there is a shift from an internal to an external perceived locus of causality, athletes’ perceptions of autonomy decline. Results of the present research suggest that it is highly possible that competitive structures lead to a change in competitors’ perceived locus of causality from internal to external. Contrary to Fortier and her colleagues’ (1995) study, our research took into consideration perceptions of autonomy and showed that competitive athletes perceived themselves less autonomous than recreational athletes. Thus, it is highly probable that sport competition leads to a decrease in individuals’ feelings of autonomy and leads them to focus on the external aspects of the activity. However, contrary to our hypotheses and past studies (e.g., Deci et al., 1981; Fortier et al., 1995; Vallerand et al., 1986a), we did not find any significant differences between competitive and recreational athletes on intrinsic motivation. It is somewhat surprising that no differences in intrinsic motivation emerged between groups because recreational athletes exhibited higher scores on perceived autonomy than competitive athletes and intrinsically motivated behavior is positively related to autonomy need satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Consequently, further research with an experimental design is required to confirm the possible harmful effect of competition on intrinsic motivation in the sport setting.

       The second purpose of this study was to examine plausible gender differences in athlete’s motivational profiles. Firstly, results revealed that male athletes perceived themselves as being more competent than female athletes. This is not surprising given male athletes typically display higher self-confidence than female athletes (e.g., Krane & Williams, 1994; Vargus-Tonsing & Bartholomew, 2006; Wark & Wittig, 1979). One explanation suggested for gender differences in perceived competence may be that males are boastful and think they will do better than they do (Lirgg, 1991). In line with our hypotheses, the present results also showed that male athletes exhibited more external regulation and less intrinsic motivation than female athletes. In other words, females appeared to take part in sport activities for the pleasure derived from the activity itself more than for extrinsic motives. These results were in line with past studies in the sport context (e.g., Chantal et al., 1996; Fortier et al., 1995) and confirmed that gender differences should be taken into consideration in the sport domain. However, contrary to our hypotheses and a study conducted by Hollembeak and Amorose’s (2005), the present findings did not confirm that females reported higher scores on perceived autonomy and perceived relatedness than males. Consequently, future investigations should continue to explore gender differences in basic need satisfaction in order to gain a better understanding of the motivational processes underpinning sport participation.

       The third purpose of the present investigation was to study motivational differences among athletes involved in individual and team sports. Results were in line with our predictions. Firstly, our results revealed that athletes in individual sports felt more autonomous than athletes in team sports. Secondly, recreational athletes in individual and team sports and competitive athletes in individual sports perceived themselves more autonomous than competitive athletes involved in team sport activities. With regard to these results, we believe that recreational and individual sport activities allow individuals to satisfy their need of autonomy. Nevertheless, it is inappropriate to make causal inferences due to the cross-sectional design of the present investigation. Therefore, this assumption should be examined in future studies using experimental designs.

       A fourth purpose of the present research was to identify motivational differences between athletes at district, regional and national levels. In line with our hypotheses, results showed that athletes at regional and national levels displayed more external regulation than the ones at district level, while athletes at national level exhibited more introjected regulation than the ones at district level. The present results also revealed that athletes at district level displayed less intrinsic motivation than those at regional and national levels. Thus, our results provide only partial support for Chantal and his colleagues’ (1996) findings. These dissimilar results could be due to the specific cultural context which prevailed in Bulgaria at the time of the study. Indeed, Chantal and his colleagues (1996) postulated that the social context which prevailed in Bulgaria under the communist regime and the pressures associated with highly competitive structures could have led to increase non self-determined forms of motivation. Consequently, future research would do well to examine differences on basic need satisfaction and motivation according to the level of sport competition.

       More generally, results from the present investigation showed that the best athletes (i.e., those ranked at national level) displayed both high levels of intrinsic motivation and external regulation. Firstly, they suggested that high-level sport performers’ behaviors were not solely intrinsically motivated. These results are comparable to those of Mallet and Hanrahan (2004) who also reported that elite male and female track and field athletes had several participation motives (e.g., excitement, enjoyment, money, social recognition). Secondly, the present findings suggested that sport performance could be positively related to both self-determined and non self-determined motivation. Therefore, future research with sport performers should examine the relationships between multidimensional motivational regulations and sport performance which is an outcome variable of central interest.

       The present study had two major limitations. Firstly, the present investigation did not use an experimental design. Thus, we cannot be assured of the direction of the relationship between sport structures, nature of sport activities and motivation. Is it athletes’ sport motivation that determines their choices to engage in competitive or recreational structures, or is it sport structure that impacts athletes’ motivational orientations? Is it individual sport that enhances athletes’ feelings of autonomy, or is it individuals’ perceptions of autonomy that determines their choices to participate in individual or team sport activities? Having recourse to longitudinal or experimental designs should allow researchers to accurately examine the relationships between sport structures, nature of sport activities, perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness, and sport motivation. A second limitation pertained to the nature of sport activities examined in this study. The participants were distinguished only in terms of participation in individual or teams sports. No significant interaction effect between gender and nature of sport activities has emerged in the present investigation. Due to restricted number of participants, it was not possible to compare, for example the motivation of basketball and tennis players. Future research should investigate this potential interaction effect between nature of sport activities and gender with a larger sample of athletes.

       In sum, results from the present investigation showed that competitive athletes exhibited lower level of perceived autonomy and higher level of external regulation than recreational athletes. They also revealed that female athletes displayed a higher self-determined profile than males, and that athletes involved in individual sports and recreational team sport athletes felt more autonomous than competitive athletes in team sports. Finally, athletes at the district level had lower scores on intrinsic motivation and external regulation than the athletes involved in sport activities at regional and national levels. The present findings underscore the importance of considering motivational differences in the sport domain as a function of sport structures, gender, nature of sport activities, and level of competition. They also offer several directions for future research to expand our knowledge of the motivational processes in sport.

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Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Nicolas Gillet, Laboratoire de Psychologie Appliquée, UFR STAPS, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Chemin des Rouliers – Moulin de la Housse, 51100 Reims – France, Email adress: nicolas.gillet@univ-reims.frnicolas.gillet@univ-reims.fr

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