The relation between children’s accuracy estimates of their physical competence and achievement-related characteristics

Maureen R. Weiss, Thelma S. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The relationship between perceptions of competence and control, achievement, and motivated behavior in youth sport has been a topic of considerable interest. The purpose of this study was to examine whether children who are under-, accurate, or overestimators of their physical competence differ in their achievement characteristics. Children (N = 133), 8 to 13 years of age, who were attending a summer sport program, completed a series of questionnaires designed to assess perceptions of competence and control, motivational orientation, and competitive trait anxiety. Measures of physical competence were obtained by teachers’ ratings that paralleled the children’s measure of perceived competence. Perceived competence and teachers’ ratings were standardized by grade level, and an accuracy score was computed from the difference between these scores. Children were then categorized as under estimators, accurate raters, or overestimators according to upper and lower quartiles of this distribution. A 2x2x3 (age level by gender by accuracy) MANCOVA revealed a significant gender by accuracy interaction. Underestimating girls were lower in challenge motivation, higher in trait anxiety, and more external in their control perceptions than accurate or overestimators. Underestimating boys were higher in perceived unknown control than accurate and overestimating boys. It was concluded that children who seriously underestimate their perceived competence may be likely candidates for discontinuation of sport activities or low levels of physical achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-258
Number of pages9
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1990


  • Children’s sport
  • Perceived competence
  • Physical achievement


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