Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, 30:283

First online:

Autonomy and Nondefensiveness

  • Holley S. HodginsAffiliated withPsychology Department, Skidmore College Email author 
  • , Holly A. YackoAffiliated withPsychology Department, Skidmore College
  • , Ethan GottliebAffiliated withPsychology Department, Skidmore College

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Three experimental studies tested whether a priming procedure intended to activate an autonomy orientation would lead to nondefensiveness and enhanced performance, whether activated control orientation would lead to higher defense and impaired performance, and whether activated impersonal orientation would lead to the greatest defense and worst performance. Study 1 showed that autonomy-primed participants report lower desire for escape compared to control-primed, and that impersonally-primed showed most desire to escape. In Study 2, autonomy-primed participants showed the least self-serving bias, control-primed were in the middle, and impersonally-primed participants showed the most. In Study 3, rowers autonomy-primed showed the least self-handicapping and best performance, control-primed showed moderate levels, and impersonally-primed showed the most self-handicapping and worst performance. Results are discussed in terms of motivation orientation, defensiveness, and performance.


Motivation Autonomy Defense Defensiveness Bias Athletic performance