On the temporal dynamics of causal attribution in competitive sport
This article provides an overview of conceptual models which detail the nature of attribution change over time. A critical evaluation of the current evidence base identified several emerging trends in the literature. Current hypotheses may not adequately describe how attributions change over time in sport and other achievement contexts, and an alternative hypothesis is presented. This hypothesis details changing perceptions of competition importance, and the corresponding significance to personal self-esteem, as the critical factor influencing changes in attributions over time. Self-serving attributions of athletes, teams and coaches should decline over time, with attributions for unsuccessful outcomes also becoming more unstable, controllable and specific. This paper also discusses the concept of attributions as behaviour predictions whereby the same processes involved in attributing past events are transferable to future events. How attributions develop and change over time is an area in much need of further research. To this end, a review of key concepts should help clarify important advances and stimulate further research into this important field.