Autonomy support enhances performance expectancies, positive affect, and motor learning

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Psychology of Sport and Exercise



First page number:


Last page number:



Objectives According to the OPTIMAL theory of motor learning (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016), autonomy support contributes to successful performance and learning in part by enhancing learners' expectancies. The present study was designed to test expectancy-related predictions. Specifically, we examined the effects of practice with autonomy support on learners’ self-efficacy, positive affect, and thoughts during practice. Design Experimental study with two groups. Movement form was assessed in two different experimental phases, supplemented by questionnaire data. Method Ten-year old children were shown a sequence of 5 ballet positions they were asked to learnPreparatory position, demi plié, tendu with arms and legs in second position, passé with arms in first position, and elevé with feet in first position. In the autonomy-support (AS) group, participants were able to choose video demonstrations throughout practice, while control (C) group participants were provided with demonstrations based on their yoked counterparts’ choices. One day after practice, participants performed in a retention test. Results The AS group demonstrated greater improvements in movement form during practice and enhanced learning relative to the C group. Furthermore, AS participants had higher self-efficacy and greater positive affect than the C group. Also, AS participants reported having more positive thoughts during practice relative to C group participants, who reported more negative and self-related thoughts. Conclusions The present findings are in line with OPTIMAL theory predictions. They highlight the motivational underpinnings of the learning benefits that are seen when learners are given choices. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd



UNLV article access

Search your library