A systematic review of content themes in sport attribution research: 1954-2011

Mark S. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This review sought to identify all sport-based attribution research to systematically explore content themes and identify areas for future research. 

A literature search identified 167 empirical sport attribution papers (encompassing 202 independent samples) published between 1954 and February 2011. Frequency calculations showed a disproportionate focus on quantitative methodologies (99.4%), outcome attributions (94.6%), and attributions for personal behavior (69.9%), with relatively few intervention studies or longitudinal designs. Findings also showed a good proportion of research conducted on youth sport participants (22.3%) and in naturally occurring competitive sport settings (69.5%). 

It is recommended that researchers expand their study of attribution in sport to consider those attributions made by coaches and parents, and for diverse events such as athletic injury and dropout. In addition, more diverse research designs (e.g., longitudinal qualitative investigations) will provide a greater appreciation of the attributions made by sport performers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • attribution
  • frequency calculations
  • self-serving bias
  • sport psychology


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