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For the Love of the Game: Intrinsic Motivation as a Source of Demand for a Voluntary Need-Based Service
Authors: Dee Warmath (University of Georgia, United States of America), Susan Myrden (University of Maine), Andrew Winterstein (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The concept of proactive healthcare has been studied largely from the provider’s perspective with an emphasis on the use of data science to anticipate the need for care (Raghupathi and Ragupathi 2014) versus from the perspective of the individual who may need such care. One exception is the study of concussion reporting. Sport-related concussions are a complex injury where the challenge involves a willingness of the injured athlete to voluntarily inform someone of their symptoms (McCrory et al. 2016). It is estimated that more than 50 percent of concussions go unreported (Baugh et al. 2015) with consequences for the individual, their team, and society.
This study applies Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to examine the role of motivation in a willingness to volunteer for or proactively pursue health services. The central question asked is: what is the role of sport motivation in the decision to seek diagnosis and care for a potentially life-altering injury? Previous studies have examined the role of motivation in persistence or performance in a sport. We seek to understand the role of motivation to play the sport in whether the individual seeks services external to the sport that would prolong participation and/or increase performance in the long-run.
In study one, a national sample of 1,491 athletes (18 to 24), we examined the relationship between an individual’s level of intrinsic motivation to play their sport and their intention to report a concussion, controlling for competitiveness and perceived risk of injury. It was found that the higher one’s intrinsic motivation, the more likely they are to report a possible concussion (voluntarily seek service) (B = 28.821, p < .001). In study two, an experiment with 160 young adults, we found causal evidence that priming intrinsic motivation increased an individual’s intention to report by 10 points on a 100-point scale (Intrinsic = 82.99, Extrinsic = 73.91, t = 2.046, p = .042).
This study contributes to SDT and service research as it informs us of the impact of motivation on an individual’s proactive pursuit of a need-based service. Our results suggest that motivation should be considered in the design of programs to encourage concussion reporting. For example, incorporating learning goals into the athlete’s training and practices may encourage higher levels of intrinsic motivation and, in turn, willingness to report (Heyman and Dweck 1992). From a practical perspective, the sports motivation scale (Pelletier et al. 1995) may be a useful device to indicate which athletes are more intrinsically, versus extrinsically, motivated as an indication which athletes may require a proactive approach to ensure that concussions are not being concealed.