Planning Mediates Between Self-Efficacy and Physical Activity Among Motivated Young Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Often, motivation to be physically active is a necessary precondition of action but still does not suffice to initiate the target behavior. Instead, motivation needs to be translated into action by a self-regulatory process. Self-efficacy and planning are considered to be useful constructs that help to facilitate such translations.


The aim is to examine the roles of motivation, planning, and self-efficacy as well as the mechanisms that operate in the change of physical activity levels.


In a longitudinal observation study with 249 young adults, self-efficacy, planning, motivation, and physical activity were assessed at 2 points in time, 3 months apart.


Planning served as a mediator between self-efficacy and physical activity, controlling for baseline activity. In addition to this indirect effect, a moderator effect was found between self-efficacy and stages of change on planning. The mediation operated only in motivated, but not in unmotivated students.


A mediation from self-efficacy via planning to physical activity seems to be likely only when people are motivated to become more active.

Zhou ( and Knoll are with the Dept of Educational Science and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Wang is with the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen, China. Schwarzer is with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, Australia and SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland.