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Goal orientation and sensation seeking in relation to optimal mood states among skateboarders.

The popularity of extreme sports in this country has produced a groundswell of interest over recent years. More than 12 million physical activity enthusiasts participate annually in the extreme sport of skateboarding (American Sports Data Inc., 2001). Part of the allure of skateboarding may be its individualized, freestyle nature, where little more is demanded than a flat surface, the self-determination to master a trick, and an inherent desire to engage in sensation seeking behavior. Sport psychologists have long recognized the importance of psychological mood states to participation in sport. The present study is designed to examine whether goal orientations and sensation seeking are related to psychological mood states among a sample of skateboarders.

Two theoretical models relevant to participation in extreme sport are achievement goal theory and sensation seeking behavior. Achievement goal theory emphasizes the relevance of goal orientations, dispositions to utilize a differentiated or undifferentiated conception of ability, that are linked to cognitive perceptions, affective responses, and achievement behavior (Ames, 1992; Dweck, 1986; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1984, 1989). Goal orientations are central to the manner in which individuals define success and judge personal competence, both critical determinants of motivation (Duda, 2001). Task orientation represents a self-referenced conception of ability, where perceived success stems from personal improvement, performing one's best, and task mastery (Roberts, 2001). Ego orientation reflects an other-referenced conception of ability and a preoccupation to evaluate personal ability in relation to the performance of others, as perceived success is based upon the demonstration of superior ability and outperforming others (Roberts, 2001). Task and ego orientations are theoretically orthogonal in nature as an individual may express high or low levels on either goal orientation (Duda & Whitehead, 1998).

Cognitive-affective and behavioral correlates of goal orientations in physical activity have been well-documented (Duda & Whitehead, 1998; Roberts, 2001). A task orientation is associated to task mastery, the beliefs that both effort and hard work eventually lead to success and that sport should encourage a physically active lifestyle, and to moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise (Duda, 1989; Kimiecik, Horn, & Shurin, 1996; Roberts,

Treasure, & Kavassanu, 1996; Spray, Biddle, & Fox, 1999). Ego orientation, however, is related to the notion that sport is a means to enhance social status, and to the beliefs that success is the result of ability, deceptive tactics, and external factors (Duda, 1989; Roberts et al., 1996; Spray et al., 1999). Dunn and Dunn (1999) demonstrated that ego-oriented participants endorsed the use of aggressive behavior and anger in sport including verbal and physical intimidation, and intentional injurious behavior. Task-oriented individuals, however, expressed higher levels of sportspersonship such as greater respect for the rules and social conventions.

Goal orientations are also associated to affective reactions in the physical domain. Task orientation has been linked to positive affective reactions including intrinsic motivation, enjoyment, satisfaction/interest, and perceptions of individual improvement (Balaguer, Duda, Atienza, & Mayo, 2002; Boyd Weinmann, & Yin, 2002; Roberts, et al., 1996). Ego orientation, on the other hand, corresponds to negative affection reactions such as cognitive anxiety leading up to performance, and to both the intensity and direction of cognitive and somatic anxiety (Hall & Kerr, 1997; Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1998; White and Zellner, 1996). Conversely, tension/pressure, cognitive anxiety, and worry prior to competition are negatively related to task orientation (Boyd, et al., 2002; Hall & Kerr, 1997; White & Zellner, 1996). Theoretically, such evidence suggests that a task orientation may be positively associated with the mood state of vigor and negatively related to the mood states of tension and anger.

Although a task orientation and effort to improve to a higher level of skill proficiency may be a valuable asset in an extreme sport such as skateboarding, a measure of sensation seeking may also be adaptive to participation. Zuckerman (1994) outlines sensation seeking as, "a trait defined by the need for varied, novel, complex ... sensations and experiences, and the willingness to take physical, social ... risks for the sake of such experience" (pg. 27). Roberti (2004) documents behavioral correlates of sensation seeking such as high-risk sport participation, biological correlates including lower cortisol responsiveness to acute anxiety, and personality traits related to sensation seeking such as an openness to experience and high resistance to both physical and psychological stressors. Sensation seeking is traditionally measured using the Sensation Seeking Scale (Form V; Zuckerman, Eysenek, & Eysenck, 1978) which yields four subscales including experience seeking, disinhibition, boredom susceptibility, and thrill and adventure seeking (TAS) subscales. The TAS subscale was designed to measure sensation seeking in sport assessing the desire to search out risky, adventurous sports, containing speed or danger.

Sensation seeking in sport significantly predicts degree of involvement in extreme sports such as skateboarding, surfing, in-line skating, snow skiing, and mountain biking (Schrader & Wann, 1999). Individuals participating in the high-risk sports of hang-gliding, rock climbing, skiing, scuba diving, and white water canoeing express higher sensation seeking (TAS) scores than those who refrain from participation or those who choose low-risk sports such as golf and tennis (Brevnik, 1996; Malkin & Rabinowitz, 1998; Wagner & Houlihan, 1994). Ball, Famill, and Wangeman (1984) indicate that TAS subscale scores peak for males 17 to 29 years of age then markedly drop off.

Sensation seeking in sport is also manifested in the reduction of negative affective reactions such as emotional arousal and anxiety. Smith, Ptacek, and Smoll (1992) find that sensation seeking leads to qualitatively better management of anxiety, more freedom from worry, and successful sport performance, including an ability to peak under pressure. High sensation seekers evidently perceive physically risky situations as less threatening, demonstrating blunted sympathetic nervous system reactivity, subsequently leading to less fear, stress, and anxiety (Franken, Gibson, & Rowland, 1992). High sensation seekers also express lower cortisol release in response to stressors, higher tolerance for aversive stimulation, and both lower emotional arousal and irritability, than low sensation seekers (Netter, Henning, & Roed, 1996). Evidence suggests that sensation seeking in sport may be positively linked to the mood state of vigor, in the form of openness to experience and participation in extreme sports, and inversely associated to the mood states of tension and anger.

Mood states have been examined extensively in the sport psychology literature (LeUnes & Berger, 2000). Successful, in relation to less successful sport performance, is characterized by mood profiles reflecting above average levels of vigor, and below average levels of tension, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion (Morgan 1985; Morgan & Costill, 1996). This pattern of mood responses has come to be known as the iceberg profile, documented recently among a sample of two thousand athletes plotted against college norms (Terry & Lane, 2000).

The utility of mood states in predicting successful performance outcome, however, has not been without controversy. In a meta-analysis, Rowley, Landers, Kyllo, and Etnier (1995) found that mood states had little value in predicting sport performance. However, Beedie, Terry, & Lane (2000) contend, that use of a total mood profile for analysis in that study, could have masked the direction of the six independent mood measures. Furthermore, failure to tease out level of achievement, from level of performance comparisons, may have also contributed to insignificant results in that study. In response, Beedie, et al., (2000), also using meta-analysis, examined the magnitude of direction of the six independent mood state measures and demonstrated specific conditions under which mood states were indeed predictive of successful sport performance. They found that although small mood effects existed between levels of achievement (ie. experts vs. novice), small to moderate pre-performance mood effects were demonstrated between successful and less successful performance, from individuals of similar achievement levels, all in the direction of Morgan's (1985) iceberg profile.

Mood profiles also discriminate between successful and less successful performance when self-referenced performance criteria are used, such as percentage of personal best, which may be more sensitive to mood fluctuations than objective performance criteria. For instance, compared to a group of under-performers, bobsledders and rowers who perceived that they had performed up to personal expectations, exhibited pre-performance mood profiles consistent with the iceberg profile (Hall & Terry, 1995; Terry, 1994). These effects were shown to be larger for open than closed skills, and shorter than longer duration activities (Terry, 1995). Skateboarding is an open sport of short duration where participants potentially generate personal best goals.

Skateboarding also shares many characteristics of other sensation seeking sports such as surfing or snowboarding that contain elements of speed and danger. Theorists have not examined mood states linked to successful performance among less traditional, yet contemporarily popular thrill seeking sports, which are easily accessible to a large segment of the population. Moreover, although sensation seeking has been examined in relation to participation in high-risk sport, the utility of the construct has not been studied in combination with other relevant variables such as goal orientations. A task orientation, in combination with sensation seeking, may be linked to mood states reflective of the iceberg profile, known to be associated with successful performance. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine the relationship between goal orientations, sensation seeking, and psychological mood states among skateboarders. It is predicted that a task orientation and sensation seeking in sport will be positively related to the mood state of vigor and negatively associated with the mood states of tension and anger.



In order to circumvent the inherent problem of obtaining parental consent from minors, which was not circumstantially feasible due to lack of parental accessibility, only skateboarders over 18 years of age were solicited to participate in the study. Male skateboarders (N=68), age 18-28 (M=20.84, SD = 2.8), voluntarily participated anonymously in the study. Ethnicity of the sample was Caucasian (69.1%), Asian (11.8%), Hispanic (10.3%), African American (4.4%), and Other (4.4%). Although qualitative assessment of skill level was not methodologically feasible, average skateboarding experience of the sample was 7.66 years (SD = 4.0).


Goal orientation. Goal orientation was quantified using the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ; Duda, 1989), a 13-item instrument composed of two subscales designed to measure task and ego orientation for sport and physical activity. The TEOSQ has been used extensively among team sports and physical activities as diverse as snow-skiing, aerobic exercise, track and field, recreational sport, and exercise behavior, among others (Duda & Whitehead, 1998). Each item is preceded by the phrase, "I feel most successful in sport when ...", answered on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The composite score for each subscale was used as the unit of measurement. The TEOSQ has consistently demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties including confirmatory factorial validity, internal reliability (means of .79 and .81 for task and ego orientation subscales, respectively), and concurrent and predictive validity (Duda & Whitehead, 1998).

Sensation seeking. The Thrill and Adventure Seeking (TAS) subscale of the Sensation Seeking Scale (Form V; Zuckerman et al., 1978) was designed to assess sensation seeking in sport and physical activity. The TAS contains 10 items that reflect participation in high-risk sports such as surfing, snow skiing, water skiing, mountain climbing, scuba diving, and parachuting, among others. Skateboarding shares characteristics, such as balance and speed, with similar sensation seeking sports (eg. surfing, water skiing) that have been assessed with the TAS subscale.

Respondents answered items on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), in order to minimize response format variation. The average score of all items for each individual was used as the sensation seeking variable. Psychometric properties, including superior factor loadings (.44-.76, males) and subscale reliabilities (.72, .87, males) have been demonstrated for the TAS (Ridgeway & Russell, 1980; Zuckerman et al., 1978).

Mood State. A shortened version of the Profile of Mood States (POMS; McNair, Lorr, & Droppleman, 1992) was used to quantify enduring mood states. The instrument is a psychometrically valid, abbreviated 30-item version of the original 65-item measure. LeUnes and Burger (2000) contend there is no need to use the 65-item measure when a shorter form with half as many items is completed in markedly less time, especially when used in conjunction with other response measures. In order to maintain consistency with the other measures, enduring mood state was assessed in the context of the past week, as pre-performance mood was not the variable of interest (Terry, 1995).

Participants were requested to, "describe how you have been feeling during the past week including today", using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely). The instrument contains six subscales assessing tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, vigor-activity, depression-dejection and confusion-bewilderment. Scores of each subscale were summed and used as the unit of measurement. Acceptable psychometric properties of the shortened form, including internal reliability of the various subscales (.79-.91), have been reported among males (McNair et al., 1992).


All skateboarders were approached for participation at one of two locations in a major West Coast urban area where skateboarders congregated daily for recreational activity and informal competition. Those who agreed to participate were seated, given a clipboard and pencil, and provided informed consent in an isolated area removed from other skateboarders. Participants were then administered response measures and completed the instruments anonymously, either individually or in small groups. Instructions for each measure, as well as the first four items of each subscale, were read aloud by the researcher adhering to a reliable protocol. Skateboarders were requested to stop after completing each measure and wait for further instruction. Participants were also encouraged to answer all items in an honest manner and ask questions for clarification whenever necessary. Upon completion, skateboarders were offered two dollars for their participation.


Internal Reliability of the Scales

The subscales contained within the TEOSQ, TAS, and the POMS generally demonstrated acceptable internal reliability. The ego orientation subscale contained in the TEOSQ, however, initially exhibited borderline reliability ([alpha] = .67). One item ("I am the only one who can do the play or skill") demonstrated an item-total correlation of .22 suggesting this item did not assess ego orientation within this sample. It makes theoretical sense that the item was poorly responded to by participants, as the term "play" is not part of the lexicon specific to skateboarding. With the item deleted, reliability of the ego orientation subscale increased to a desirable level of .70 (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994). Item-total correlation of the remaining ego orientation items ranged from .35-.59. Cronbach (1951) alpha of the task orientation subscale was .81.

Internal reliability of the thrill and adventure seeking subscale (TAS) was .76. Reliability coefficients of the mood state subscales contained in the POMS were .77 (tension), .81 (anger), .82 (fatigue), .79 (vigor), .75 (depression), and .50 (confusion). The confusion subscale demonstrated tentative reliability and was subsequently deleted from further analysis.

All measured mood states demonstrated means ranging in difference from .07-. 15 of a standard deviation from male college age norms established for the shortened version of the POMS (McNair, et al., 1992), and standard deviations ranging in difference from .70-10.0 percent of norms. Table 1 displays means, standard deviations, and internal reliabilities for all measured variables.

Intercorrelations among Subscales

The interfactor correlation between task and ego orientation was shown to be negligible (r = .10) confirming the orthogonal nature of the two measures within a skateboarding population. Sensation seeking was unrelated to both task and ego orientation. A cluster of significant correlations emerged among the negative emotions of tension, anger, fatigue, and depression ranging in magnitude from .47 to .69. Correlation coefficients among all measures are displayed in Table 2.

Multivariate Relationships Among Variables

In order to examine the multivariate relationship between the linear combination of variables consisting of goal orientations and sensation seeking, and a second set of variables consisting of mood states, a canonical correlation analysis was performed. The first set of variables

entered were task orientation, ego orientation, and sensation seeking. Mood state variables included tension, anger, fatigue, vigor, and depression. Canonical loadings greater than .30 were retained for meaningful interpretation (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001).

One significant canonical function emerged (Wilks' lambda =. .643, F (15, 166)= 1.91, p < .025). The canonical correlation was .49 (R-square =.24). Table 3 contains canonical loadings, within set variance accounted for by the canonical variates, and the canonical correlation. Variables in the first set that loaded on the canonical variate, in order of magnitude, were task orientation (.856) and sensation seeking (.599). Ego orientation (.082) failed to reach the cutoff criterion of .30 for meaningful contribution to the multivariate relationship (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). The relevant mood state variables retained for meaningful interpretation were vigor (.871), tension (-.469), and anger (-.374). Fatigue and depression failed to meaningfully contribute to the canonical correlation. Thus, canonical variates revealed that task orientation and sensation seeking were positively associated with the mood state of vigor and negatively related to the mood states of tension and anger.


The present study examined the relationship between goal orientations/sensation seeking and psychological mood states among moderately skilled skateboarders. Canonical correlation demonstrated that a high positive loading on task orientation and a moderately positive loading on sensation seeking corresponded positively to the mood state of vigor and negatively to the mood states of tension and anger among participants engaged in a thrill seeking sport. Ego orientation, however, failed to contribute meaningfully to the multivariate relationship and was found to be unrelated to any of the mood state response measures contained in the POMS.

Skateboarders who expressed both a high task orientation and a propensity for sensation seeking reported higher levels of the mood state of vigor, and lower levels of the mood states of tension and anger than their low sensation seeking cohorts. This pattern of mood states, known as the iceberg profile, has been recognized to distinguish between successful and less successful sport performances (Beedie et al., 2000), especially among open sports of short duration where participants potentially generate self-referenced performance criteria (Hall & Terry, 1995; Terry, 1995), such as skateboarding.

A task orientation may be an especially viable approach in a sensation seeking sport like skateboarding where one must persist through endless hours of practice and exert relentless effort in order to master a particularly challenging trick. The high levels of vigor observed among task-oriented skateboarders coincide well with research linking task orientation with effort, hard work, and intrinsic motivation (Boyd et al., 2002; Spray et al., 1999). Such vigor may be a requisite demanded of the skateboard warrior who must navigate innumerable spills and mishaps in order to improve to the next subjective level of boarding proficiency. Moreover, the inverse multivariate relationship which emerged between task orientation and both tension and anger is consistent with literature indicating a task orientation to be negatively related to cognitive anxiety and positively linked to sportspersonship (Dunn & Dunn, 1999; Hall & Kerr, 1997). A task orientation may serve to insulate the skateboarder from the debilitating effects of performance anxiety.

Sensation seeking, in conjunction with a task orientation, was also aligned with desirable mood states and may therefore also be an integral factor for the skateboarder. The negative relationship between sensation seeking and both tension and anger, parallels studies linking sensation seeking to anxiety management, ability to peak under pressure, blunted nervous reactivity to physical risk, and both lower irritability and emotional arousal (Franken et al., 1992; Netter et al., 1996; Smith et al., 1992). The mood state of vigor was also related to sensation seeking, as sensation seekers possess an inherent openness to new experience and an affinity to search out high-risk activity (Roberti, 2004; Shrader & Wann, 1999) such as extreme sport.

Skateboarding shares many characteristics, including speed and danger, with similar sports considered high-risk activity such as surfing, snow boarding, and roller blading, where a willingness to "push the envelope" may result in an obligatory mishap and potential injury. For the skateboarder, aspiring to a higher level of skill proficiency, there must be a willingness to attempt a threatening jump or "hug a rail" just a little longer. Sensation seeking may serve to provide the skateboarder the motivation to attempt the next level of measured risk, still within one's limitations of capability. Of course, engaging in reckless risk, or venturing beyond one's perceived capability, is not well advised and may potentially cause bodily injury.

Results also indicated that ego orientation failed to contribute meaningfully to the multivariate relationship linking goal orientations and sensation seeking to optimal mood states. Ego orientation, and concomitant attention to the performance of others, apparently does not correspond well with mood states known to facilitate performance. A negligible interfactor correlation confirmed the orthogonal nature of task and ego orientation within this sample of skateboarders. Means and standard deviations of the two subscales were shown to be well within ranges reported for these dispositional constructs in sport, physical activity, and exercise (Duda & Whitehead, 1998).

The depression and fatigue mood state measures failed to meaningfully load on the mood state canonical variate. These mood states evidently have little relevance to task-oriented skateboarders who are also sensation seekers. Perhaps a task orientation and perceptions of effort, in conjunction with a desire to seek out thrilling physical activity, is not a mindset conducive to entertaining feelings of depression. Furthermore, the opportunity for periodic rest is readily at the immediate voluntary discretion of the skateboarding enthusiast, perhaps rendering the mood state of fatigue inconsequential to the skateboarder.

The present results indicated that a task orientation and sensation seeking were significantly related to the mood states of vigor, tension, and anger, in a manner consistent with the iceberg profile, known to be aligned with successful sport performance. Future research should examine other correlates of goal orientation and sensation seeking. In order to enhance generalization, the two constructs should also be examined among other currently popular, individualized sensation seeking sports such as surfing or snow boarding.

Some controversy exists concerning whether skateboarding is truly a sport. In response, Howe (2004), a long-term skateboarder, and writer, quotes a professional skateboarder who was asked this question, and responded, "Yes. Wait, no. I don't know" (pg. 353). A study designed to ascertain whether task-oriented skateboarders express significantly different affective reactions than ego-oriented skateboarders, in a competitive skateboarding event, would shed some light on this controversy. Given the current popularity of extreme sports such as skateboarding in this country, ongoing formal inquiry is certainly warranted.


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Michael P. Boyd

California State University, Fullerton


Mi-Sook Kim

San Francisco State University

Address Correspondence To: Michael Boyd, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Fullerton, P.O. Box 6870, Fullerton, CA 92834.
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, and Internal Reliability of Measures

Variables M SD [alpha]

Predictor Variables
 Task Orientation 4.41 .57 .81
 Ego Orientation 2.18 .73 .70
 Sensation seeking 3.23 .68 .76
 Tension 6.97 4.07 .77
 Anger 4.76 4.14 .81
 Fatigue 7.18 4.29 .82
 Vigor 11.49 3.76 .79
 Depression 4.44 4.07 .75

Table 2.
Correlation Coefficients among All Measured Variables

 2 3 4 5

1. Task orientation .10 .10 -.28 * -.24 *
2. Ego orientation .12 .14 .21
3. Sensation seeking .02 .05
4. Tension .69 ***
5. Anger
6. Fatigue
7. Vigor
8. Depression

 6 7 8

1. Task orientation -.09 .31 ** -.03
2. Ego orientation .22 .05 .15
3. Sensation seeking .09 .33 ** -.02
4. Tension .47 *** -.11 .51 ***
5. Anger .49 *** -.20 .60 ***
6. Fatigue -.16 .50 ***
7. Vigor -.12
8. Depression

Note: * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001

Table 3
Canonical Loadings, Percents of Variance, and Canonical Correlation
between Goal Orientation/Sensation seeking and Mood States

 Canonical loadings

Predictor Variables
 Task orientation .856
 Ego orientation .082
 Sensation-seeking .599
 Percent of variance .37

Criterion Variables
 Tension -.469
 Anger -.374
 Fatigue -.077
 Vigor .871
 Depression -.094
 Percent of variance .23
 Canonical Correlation .49
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Author:Boyd, Michael P.; Kim, Mi-Sook
Publication:Journal of Sport Behavior
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Date:Mar 1, 2007
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