Motivation and Emotion

, 30:283 | Cite as

Autonomy and Nondefensiveness

  • Holley S. HodginsEmail author
  • Holly A. Yacko
  • Ethan Gottlieb
Original Paper


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 



The authors wish to thank Coach Jim Tucci and the Skidmore College women and men's crew teams for participating in Study 3 with such generosity and good-nature, and to offer our admiration for people who get out on Saratoga Lake so very early. Many thanks also to Marc Mandel, the men's rowing coach at the Florida Institute of Technology, for providing data and the rowing times for use in Study 3. This research was supported by a Skidmore College Faculty Award for Major Project Completion awarded to the first author during the summer of 2003.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holley S. Hodgins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Holly A. Yacko
    • 1
  • Ethan Gottlieb
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentSkidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA

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