Helen Jõesaar will defend her dissertation "The effects of perceived peer motivational climate, autonomy support from coach, basic need satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation on persistence in sport" on 23 May 2012 at 2.15 p.m. in the Hall of the Senate of the University of Tartu, applying for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in exercise and sport sciences.
The dissertation has been supervised by Senior Lecturer Vello Hein. The opponent is Professor Juris Grants of the Latvian Academy of Sports Education.
Sport professionals wish to find out why young people choose to discontinue being active in the chosen sports activity. In previous studies has been done in-depth research on how young athletes perceive the training environment created by the coach and how it influences their motivation for sport continuation. However, as a few recent studies have shown, peers are key contributors as well as adults in creating a motivational climate in sport setting. The question is whether peer influence is perceived in the same way as that of the coach. In particular, to date no longitudinal studies have been conducted to investigate that kind of peer influence.
The aim of the present study was to examine social-contextual factors that influence youth athletes' participation motivation for persistence behaviour in sport. An additional aim was to investigate how youth athletes perceive the autonomy supportive behaviour of coach and motivational climate created by peers influencing their intrinsic motivation toward sport. Study emphasis has been displaced from coach to peer group effects that characterize the motivational process that impel the individual to the relevant activities. Results from this study highlight the important role of the peer group, along with adults, as a source of influence on intrinsic motivation and further behavioural persistence in sport. Parents and coaches should adopt autonomy supportive behaviour and encourage collaboration, learning, and effort among adolescents. It is important for coaches to avoid promoting a creation of a peer climate where the emphasis is on competition, comparison and negative comments. It seems to be preferable to foster a task-involving peer climate (giving young athletes time to practice and communicate with teammates) that is influential on satisfying the three basic psychological needs and affects the formation of intrinsic motivation. This kind of training environment conception will have a positive impact on athletes' intrinsic motivation to participate in sport in the long run.