A theory that proposes that the needs and desires directing human behaviour switch back and forth between one state of mind and another during the course of a day. According to reversal theory, motivational states occur in four pairs of alternative states (called metamotivational states): the telic state and paratelic state; conformist state and negativist state; mastery state and sympathy state; and autic state and alloic states. These states combine with each other in various ways at different times to bring about the full range of human behaviour and emotions. In sport psychology, reversal theory adopts the view that an athlete exhibits complex, changeable, and inconsistent behaviour that can and does alternate between psychological states from moment to moment, depending upon the meaning and motives felt by that athlete. For example, during a competition, an athlete might perceive the arousal produced by cheering spectators as positive one minute and then reverse the interpretation to negative the next, resulting in a change of metamotivational state that affects performance.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.