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Rodriguez, D., A. Wigfield, and Jacquelynne S. Eccles. 2003. "Changing Competence Perceptions, Changing Values: Implications for Youth Sport." Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 15(1): 67-81.
William. James' (1892/1961) definition of self-esteem, the ratio of success over pretensions, has been the focus of much research and theory (e.g., Epstein, 1973, Harter, 1998; Marsh, 1994). Unfortunately research findings in support of James' ratio have been mixed, depending on the research methods applied. Two potential reasons for the mixed findings are submersion of the formulation under the rubric "importance," and reliance by researchers on cross-sectional data analysis. While importance is one dimension of pretensions, the gist of James' definition is the cognitive compensation resulting from decrease in success, for the purpose of self-esteem maintenance, a process occurring over time. In the present study, James' ratio was assessed in the domain of sport, an area in which it has not often been assessed. The stability of children's success (sport competence beliefs), pretensions (the perceived value of athletics), and self-esteem are assessed over a three-year period, with latent growth modeling. The results provide some support for James' hypothesis. Implications for youth sport are discussed.