Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation in athlete doping

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Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation in athlete doping:
What motivational factors lead to athlete doping?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Athlete doping has been present in competitive sports dating back to the ancient Olympic Games (Holt, Erotokritou-Mulligan, & Sönksen, 2009). Throughout history, doping methods have advanced at a faster rate than testing techniques. As a result cheating athletes may never be caught or only be discovered years after competition (Petróczi, 2007). In 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency was founded, providing international doping guidelines for athletes and coaches, comprehensively outlining what is encompassed under the umbrella term "doping". Motivational factors have been linked with doping, suggesting particular reasons an athlete may demonstrate a positive attitude towards doping (Ryan & Deci, 2000). This chapter focuses in on the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational influences on athletes' doping behaviour.

Athlete doping[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Sprinter Asafa Powell at the Bislett games in 2010 before testing positive to performance enhancing drugs in 2013

Athlete doping is a term when a competitor uses banned or prohibited methods to gain an advantage over another opponent in a competition (Petróczi, 2007). Taking prohibited substances, non-therapeutic gene manipulation, and non-cooperation with testing means from athletes, all fall under the term doping, because they aim to unfairly enhance an athlete’s performance (Petróczi, 2007). Doping is unethical as it leads to unfairness and inequality, and is thus forbidden in the majority of professional competitions (Zucchetti, Candela, & Villosio, 2015). The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) focuses on bringing consistency to anti-doping rules and regulations worldwide through a code, aiming to provide an equal opportunity for all competitors in sport by eliminating cheating (World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA], 2015). The WADA (2015) code comprises of five important sub-sections: prohibited substances list; testing; therapeutic use exemptions; laboratories; and the storage and privacy of personal information. Read the code here.

History of doping in sport[edit | edit source]

Doping in sport dates back to the ancient Olympic Games, where it has been reported that eating figs, or the testes of an animal to increase testosterone levels, was a common method used by athletes to enhance performance (Holt et al., 2009). Although these methods were legal in the sport, it proved that humans who are placed in a competitive setting would attempt almost anything to gain an advantage over an opponent (Holt et al., 2009). During the 19th century, doping was extremely common among athletes, with stimulants such as caffeine being introduced to many sports to enhance energy levels and concentration, before amphetamines and anabolic agents were introduced to the sporting scene in the early 20th century (Holt et al., 2009). The formation of WADA in 1999 aimed to provide worldwide guidelines for athletes and coaches about banned means of doping, intending to reduce the prevalence of athlete doping in professional competitions (Holt et al., 2009).

Prevalence of doping in sport[edit | edit source]

The current prevalence of doping in sport is an issue that has virtually been ignored, with very little literature focusing on this matter (de Hon, Kuipers, & van Bottenburg, 2014). The exact prevalence rates of doping in sport are still unknown, however it has been estimated to be between 14-39% of current professional athletes are intentionally doping (de Hon et al., 2014). It has also been determined that the prevalence of doping varies immensely between countries, sports, and training groups, suggesting that athletes are much more likely to partake in doping when exposed to particular athletic groups (de Hon et al., 2014). According to WADA (2015) statistics, the three most commonly abused substances that doping athletes use are anabolic agents, stimulants, and diuretics or masking agents, with powerlifters providing the highest percentage of positive indications. These are important aspects to consider for doping in sport, as knowing the rates can help determine what anti-doping interventions should be implemented, and whether they are showing success in slowing down doping in sport. To view the full Anti-Doping Testing Figures Report, click here.

Case study: Something to think about![edit | edit source]

John is a prospective rugby union player with hopes that he will one day play in the super rugby competition. He has persisted with rugby through his junior years and was scouted into the under 20s NSW state representative side four years ago. Since then, John has been sitting on the brink of making his first grade debut, always seeming to be just left out of the team. John decided to meet with the coach about the issue, who provided a reason for his consistent choice for not including him in the team. He stated that John’s strength was not up to scratch, and that he would need to show immense determination to reach the strength levels of his superiors. John embraced this feedback and has increased his gym work to six days a week. While training, John notices a number of the "strong" and "well-muscled" guys drinking a coloured drink that he saw them preparing in the change rooms. After the session he asks one of the men what they were drinking, to which he responds with "DHEA, it’s completely legal and builds muscle at the click of a finger!" John has heard of this supplement and its banned status in professional sport, despite it being legal. John thinks to himself “What’s the harm in using a supplement to build strength quickly and then stop taking it if I am selected for the rugby team?”

What is motivation?[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. Stick and carrot. What motivates you?

Motivation is defined as being eager and activated towards different activities or behaviours (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Individuals who display no intent or inspiration to do something are amotivated (Ryan & Deci, 2000). The source of motivation can be understood dichotomously, as either intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation. The source of motivation influences an individual’s quality of experience and performance (Ryan & Deci, 2000).  

Intrinsic motivation:[edit | edit source]

Intrinsic motivation is the idea of completing an activity or behaviour for inherent satisfactions, rather than external influences, pressures or rewards (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Intrinsic motivation is demonstrated by children, with their inquisitive, playful and curious behaviour to learn and develop, despite the absence of specific rewards, and is consistently used throughout the lifespan (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Generally, intrinsic motivation arises from leisurely activities, or activities that one enjoys completing or partaking in, leading to a reliable on-going form of motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, it is difficult for individuals to form intrinsic motivation about activities or behaviours they are not interested in, leading to use of other forms of motivation.

Extrinsic motivation:[edit | edit source]

Extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors or rewards (Pelletier et al., 1995). Competitive atmospheres, money and student grades are all examples of extrinsic motivators, as they are used to encourage the individual to complete the desired behaviour. Without this reinforcement, the participant generally would not have had the intrinsic motivation to complete the behaviour. Overuse of extrinsic motivators can undermine an individual’s intrinsic motivation towards behaviour causing the overjustification effect (Peters & Vollmer, 2014). A common example of the overjustification effect is when an individual partakes in a particular sport because they find it highly enjoyable, but are then offered an external reward like money, leading to a decrease in that individual's intrinsic motivation to complete the activity (Peters & Vollmer, 2014). Once the external reward is ceased, the interest in the activity is lost.

Amotivation[edit | edit source]

Similar to the concept of learned helplessness, amotivational syndrome is where individuals do not perceive contingencies between actions and the outcomes of those actions (Pelletier et al., 1995). Therefore, individuals display neither intrinsic nor extrinsic motivation to complete activities or behaviours, exhibiting feelings of uselessness and a lack of control, leading to the individual ceasing the behaviour (Pelletier et al., 1995).

Motivational theory applied to athlete doping[edit | edit source]

Several psychological theories can be applied to athlete doping to help understand the motivators for doping in sport, including The self-determination theory, the theory of planned behaviour, the incentive theory of motivation, and the attribution theory of motivation.

Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]

Figure 3. The three innate needs that make up the self-determination theory

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a theory of motivation that is concerned with the evolvement of human personality development and behavioural self-regulation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). It suggests that individual’s fundamental growth tendencies and distinctive psychological needs, together create the base for self-motivation and personality integration (Ryan & Deci, 2000). The SDT comprises of three innate needs, which are essential for growth, optimal functioning, and integration among individuals (Ryan & Deci, 2000). These innate needs are:

  1. Autonomy: the need for individual achievement and act in accord with the integrated self.
  2. Competence: the need for individuals to control outcomes and experience self-efficacy.
  3. Relatedness: the need to connect, interact, and form relationships with others. 

SDT has been used widely to explain the motive actions of athletes toward a number of positive and adaptive behavioural patterns in sport (Chan et al., 2014). The SDT can be applied to athlete doping and to try and understand the motivational factors that encourage athletes to participate in this particular behaviour. Ryan and Deci (2000) mention that autonomous motivation, which originates from one’s self, is a much stronger predictor at promoting behavioural persistence than controlled motivation or amotivation. However, according to Chan et al. (2014), in terms of athlete doping, autonomous motivational factors were a negative predictor of doping and banned substances, and both controlled motivation and amotivation were positive predictors for attitudes towards doping and banned substances. Chan and colleagues (2014) suggested that athletes who are more intrinsically motivated to perform are much less likely to partake in doping behaviours compared to athletes that use extrinsic rewards or are amotivated.

Furthermore, Barkoukis, Lazuras, Tsorbatzoudis, and Rodafinos (2011) mentioned that the idea of viewing motivation as a two-ended continuum, with extreme intrinsic at one end and extreme extrinsic at the other is an overly basic and simplistic way to look at the SDT in terms of athlete doping. Athlete doping has been viewed as a behaviour where one’s self-determined actions can be influenced by a number of different motives. This idea leads to the self-determination continuum, which incorporates intrinsic motivation (high self-determination), extrinsic motivation (introjection, external regulation, identification), and also amotivation (very low levels of self-determination) (Barkoukis et al., 2011). Implementing this continuum on athlete doping behaviour has further reinforced the findings of Chan et al. (2014). Athletes who display high levels of self-determination are intrinsically motivated and tend to have negative views of doping behaviour, and athletes who exhibit different dimensions of extrinsic motivation or amotivation report much higher doping intentions (Barkoukis et al., 2011).

Theory of planned behaviour[edit | edit source]

Figure 4. The Theory of Planned Behaviour

The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) is a psychological construct developed by Ajzen in 1980, and is used for the prediction of social behaviours in humans (Ajzen, 1991). It is described as being one of the best models for predicting social behaviours, and builds on the theory of reasoned action (Armitage & Conner, 2001). Ajzen (1991) stated that behaviour is a result of intentions, and that intentions are influenced by three behavioural concepts - attitudes towards behaviour (behavioural beliefs), subjective norms (normative beliefs), and perceived behavioural control (control beliefs).

Table 1. Predictors of the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Predictor Definition
Attitudes towards behaviour Attitudes towards behaviour focus on specific beliefs behind behaviour, and that certain behaviours are influenced due to the consequences that may transpire for partaking in that behaviour (Ajzen, 2011)
Subjective norms Subjective norms refer to the perceived social pressure to either perform or not perform certain behaviours (Manning, 2009)
Perceived behavioural control Perceived behavioural control is established around the idea of self-efficacy and the perceived difficulty of carrying out a particular behaviour (Ajzen, 2011)

The TPB has been recognised as an appropriate theory to identify psychosocial predictors of doping intentions among athletes (Barkoukis, Lazuras, Tsorbatzoudis, & Rodafinos, 2013). Research discovered that, of the three behavioural predictors, attitudes towards behaviours and perceived behavioural control presented a highly significant[explain?] result toward doping intention, suggesting that intrinsic motivational factors play an important role for athletes that are pro-doping (Lazuras, Barkoukis, Rodafinos, & Tzorbatzoudis, 2010). Additionally, past and present doping behaviour has also shown to correlate strongly with intention to dope in the future, which again strengthens the idea that the athlete’s attitude and self-efficacy can have a heavy influence[explain?] on doping (Lazuras et al., 2010). This then points in the direction of behavioural control and attitude beliefs, mentioning that intentions can be altered to reduce the risk of doping in the future[explain?] (Lazuras et al., 2010).

Another important aspect of athlete doping that the TPB needs to address is whether the type of sport influences the type of motivation. According to WADA (2015), powerlifting and the use of anabolic agents provide the highest number of positive indications of any sport, leading to the idea of social motivational factors affecting athletes in the gym. Wiefferink, Detmar, Coumans, Vogels, and Paulussen (2007) focused on this idea, particularly looking at extrinsic motivation and the effect of subjective norms on athletes in the gym. It was found that many athletes who participate in powerlifting, bodybuilding, and combat sports thought that significant others in the gym who were using performance enhancing drugs than were not, proposing that these athletes perceive taking substances as being superior (Wiefferink et al., 2007)[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Similarly, it was found that individuals who were exposed to training partners and coaches who were doping were also much more likely to partake (Wiefferink et al., 2007). This further validates the use of the TPB to understanding athlete doping, and shows that both intrinsic and extrinsic predictors influence behaviour intention[explain?].

Incentive theory of motivation[edit | edit source]

The incentive theory of motivation predominantly looks at extrinsic motivation and the drivers or reinforcers placed upon an individual to carry out a task (Cherry, 2013). It argues that positive reinforcers are generally used to increase the frequency or overall magnitude of a behavioural response (i.e., provide an incentive to continue the desired behaviour) (Cherry, 2013). The incentive or reward can either be tangible or intangible and must be provided directly after the behaviour has been performed, as incentives are only effective through continuous positive stimulation (Cherry, 2013).

Morente-Sánchez and Zabala (2013) discovered that a great proportion of athletes who use doping methods, do so for financial gain, athletic success, and the perception that other athletes are doping. Although it is recognised to be a risky, unhealthy, and cheating behaviour, the majority of athletes who dope mention its effectiveness and how extensively used it is throughout sport (Morente-Sánchez & Zabala, 2013). Athletes also reported the ineffectiveness of anti-doping programs, mentioning that the desire to win and make money outweighed the risks associated, including the lenient bans if caught.

Applying the incentive theory to athlete doping to try and understand the motives behind this behaviour, provides a similar view to that of Chan et al.'s (2014) SDT doping study. High extrinsic motivation and low intrinsic motivation are key determinants when it comes to pro-doping intentions. The idea of paying better skilled athletes more money and giving them higher praise are significant extrinsic motivational factors, which for many are large enough incentives to use doping as a means to reach these levels (Morente-Sánchez & Zabala, 2013).

Attribution theory of motivation[edit | edit source]

The attributional theory of achievement motivation originally developed by Fritz Heider focuses on the causal attributions of achievement, and how particular outcomes influence future motivations and behaviours (Weiner, 1985). It is a model that focuses on both intrinsic attribution (personal determinants) and extrinsic attribution (situational determinants), which aim to assist in explaining different motivational factors that lead to certain behaviours. Weiner (1985) further explored the attributional theory of achievement, introducing a three-dimensional model incorporating stability (individual's perceptions about the future), locus (relating to individual persistence), and controllability (level of control). This model concentrates on both positive and negative consequences or outcomes due to a particular behaviour. It was found that individuals who experienced a positive outcome from a behaviour were much more likely to replicate the process to achieve the same or similar outcome, whereas attributions that produced a negative outcome showed that future application and success for that individual is significantly lowered (Weiner, 1985).

Attribution theory has been applied successfully to sport to help determine the underlying motivational factors that influence athletes to perform, mentioning that the human brain acts as a processor and determines future actions based on past experiences (Rejeski & Brawley, 1983). It is very unlikely for an athlete to improve on future performances if they associate failure with a competition due to external reasons, like "the course was not properly marked out" or "the ground was slippery" (Barkoukis, Lazuras, & Tsorbatzoudis, 2013). However, it has been shown that an athlete who has internal reasons for failure has a much greater chance of building on their mistakes and increasing motivation towards an ultimate goal (Barkoukis et al., 2013) Thus attribution theory is similar to the TPB with regard to how past behaviours play an important role for determining how an athlete will behave in upcoming competitions. Research conducted by Barkoukis et al. confirms this association, and further mentions how athletes who view external reasons for failure are much more likely to participate in future doping behaviours, as they see the competition as being unfair or against them. This again emphasises the importance of intrinsic motivation to an athlete’s negative attitude towards doping, as doping is not deemed necessary for progression in a sport.  

Test your knowledge[edit | edit source]

1 According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), what is the most commonly abused performance enhancing drug?

Anabolic agents
Masking agents

2 Athletes are more likely to use doping techniques in the future if they have had a history of doping.


3 Which motivational theory encompasses autonomy, competence and relatedness as innate needs?

Theory of planned behaviour
Incentive theory
Classical conditioning
Self-determination theory
Achievement and motivation theory

4 ________ motivation is the idea of completing an activity or behaviour for its inherent satisfactions.

Subjective norm

5 What are the predictors of the theory of planned behaviour? (Select one or more answers)

Attitudes towards behaviour
Subjective norms
Perceived behavioural control

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Understanding the underlying influences of motivation is an immensely important area for determining why athletes partake in doping behaviours. This has been illustrated in this chapter through use of several psychological theories, each relating to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. With sporting events becoming increasingly larger and more competitive every year, there is an increase in demand being placed on elite athletes, which can lead to an increase in doping behaviour. Extrinsic motivation and amotivation are associated with pro-doping attitudes, as is associating financial gain, increased performance, leniency of bans, and a lack of inherent desire to participate in the sport (Morente-Sánchez & Zabala, 2013). Intrinsic motivation and planned behaviour suggest that social perception is somewhat interrelated with doping behaviour in gym based athletes (powerlifting, bodybuilding, and combat sports)[explain?], however it[what?] was predominantly a predictor for strong internal beliefs and inherent desire to participate in the sport, creating a negative attitude towards doping behaviours (Wiefferink et al., 2007). Understanding the motivational factors for athletic doping is imperative for the creation and implementation of future anti-doping interventions and to thereby help create an even playing field across all professional competitions (Barkoukis et al., 2011).

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179-211

Ajzen, I. (2011). The theory of planned behaviour: Reactions and reflections. Psychology & Health, 26(9), 1113-1127. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2011.613995

Armitage, C. & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the Theory of Planned Behaviour: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(4), 471-499. doi: 10.1348/014466601164939

Barkoukis, V., Lazuras, L., Tsorbatzoudis, H., & Rodafinos, A. (2011). Motivational and sportspersonship profiles of elite athletes in relation to doping behavior. Psychology of Sport And Exercise,12(3), 205-212. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.10.003

Barkoukis, V., Lazuras, L., & Tsorbatzoudis, H. (2013). Beliefs about the causes of success in sports and susceptibility for doping use in adolescent athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32(3), 212-219. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2013.819521

Barkoukis, V., Lazuras, L., Tsorbatzoudis, H., & Rodafinos, A. (2013). Motivational and social cognitive predictors of doping intentions in elite sports: An integrated approach. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports, 23(5), 330-340. doi: 10.1111/sms.12068

Chan, D., Donovan, R., Lentillon-Kaestner, V., Hardcastle, S., Dimmock, J., Keatley, D., & Hagger, M. (2014). Young athletes' awareness and monitoring of anti-doping in daily life: Does motivation matter?. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports, 25(6), 655-663. doi: 10.1111/sms.12362

Cherry, K. (2013). Incentive theory of motivation. New York, USA, Wadsworth Publishing

Clancy, R., Herring, M., MacIntyre, T., & Campbell, M. (2016). A review of competitive sport motivation research. Psychology of Sport And Exercise, 27, 232-242. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2016.09.003

de Hon, O., Kuipers, H., & van Bottenburg, M. (2014). Prevalence of Doping Use in Elite Sports: A Review of Numbers and Methods. Sports Medicine, 45(1), 57-69. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0247-x

Holt, R., Erotokritou-Mulligan, I., & Sönksen, P. (2009). The history of doping and growth hormone abuse in sport. Growth Hormone & IGF Research, 19(4), 320-326. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2009.04.009

Lazuras, L., Barkoukis, V., Rodafinos, A., & Tzorbatzoudis, H. (2010). Predictors of Doping Intentions in Elite-Level Athletes: A Social Cognition Approach. Journal of Sport And Exercise Psychology, 32(5), 694-710. doi: 10.1123/jsep.32.5.694

Manning, M. (2009). The effects of subjective norms on behaviour in the theory of planned behaviour: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48(4), 649-705. doi: 10.1348/014466608x393136

Morente-Sánchez, J. & Zabala, M. (2013). Doping in Sport: A Review of Elite Athletes’ Attitudes, Beliefs, and Knowledge. Sports Medicine, 43(6), 395-411. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0037-x

Pelletier, L., Tuson, K., Fortier, M., Vallerand, R., Briére, N., & Blais, M. (1995). Toward a New Measure of Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation, and Amotivation in Sports: The Sport Motivation Scale (SMS). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(1), 35-53. doi: 10.1123/jsep.17.1.35

Peters, K. & Vollmer, T. (2014). Evaluations of the Overjustification Effect. Journal of Behavioral Education, 23(2), 201-220. doi: 10.1007/s10864-013-9193-1

Petróczi, A. (2007). Attitudes and doping: a structural equation analysis of the relationship between athletes' attitudes, sport orientation and doping behaviour. Substance Abuse Treatmeant, Prevention, and Policy, 2(1), 34. doi: 10.1186/1747-597x-2-34

Rejeski, W. & Brawley, L. (1983). Attribution Theory in Sport: Current Status and New Perspectives. JSP, 5(1), 77-99. doi: 10.1123/jsp.5.1.77

Ryan, R. & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1020

Ryan, R. & Deci, E. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.55.1.68

Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological Review, 92(4), 548-573. doi: 10.1037//0033-295x.92.4.548

Wiefferink, C. H., Detmar, S. B., Coumans, B., Vogels, T., & Paulussen, T. G. W. (2008). Social Psychological Determinants of the use of Performance-enhancing Drugs by Gym Users. Health Education Research, 23(1), 70-80.

World Anti-Doping Agency. (2015). World anti-doping code [Version 4]

Zucchetti, G., Candela, F., & Villosio, C. (2015). Psychological and social correlates of doping attitudes among Italian athletes. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(2), 162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.07.021

External links[edit | edit source]