Achievement Goal Theory and disordered eating: Relationships between female gymnasts’ goal orientations, perceived motivational climate and disordered eating correlates

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


    Objectives: To examine the relationships between disordered eating in female gymnasts and dancers and their perspective towards achievement in sport and dance, respectively. With an emphasis on outperforming others (ego involvement), more disordered eating was expected than when personal progress (task involvement) was emphasized. Methods: Ninety-four aesthetic performers from gymnastics (n = 59) and dance (n = 35) completed questionnaires measuring ego and task involvement (individual orientation and motivational climate), dieting, self-esteem, perfectionism and weight-related peer and coach pressure. Results: Partial correlations indicated that a stronger ego orientation was related to more dieting, greater perfectionism, more weight-related peer pressure, and lower self-esteem. Similar relationships were found for performance climate. Mastery climate on the other hand was negatively related to dieting, and coach and peer pressure, suggesting that when performers perceived the motivational climate as mastery, less frequent dieting was reported and less weight-related coach and peer pressure was perceived. No relationships were found between task orientation and disordered eating. Most importantly, regression analysis showed that after controlling for BMI, both ego orientation and mastery climate made a unique significant contribution to explaining dieting variance. Conclusions: Goal achievement theory is an important framework for explaining disordered eating in female aesthetic performers. Both ego orientation and mastery climate play a role in dieting of gymnasts and dancers. Aesthetic performers who are strongly ego-oriented tend to display more disordered eating correlates. Furthermore, it seems that to protect against disordered eating, coaches and teachers should create a mastery climate and target self-improvement and self-referenced comparisons over interpersonal competitiveness. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)72-79
    JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Cite this