Perceptions of Peer Relationships and Physical Activity Participation in Early Adolescence

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Alan L. SmithPurdue University

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This study tested a model describing the relationships among perceptions of peer relationships, physical self-worth, affective responses toward physical activity, and physical activity motivation. The model was grounded in Harter’s (1978,1981a, 1986,1987) theoretical perspective, proposing that perceptions of peer relationships (i.e., friendship, peer acceptance) would predict physical activity motivation via affect and physical self-worth. Adolescents (N = 418, ages 12–15 years) completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed the study variables. Results of structural equation modeling analyses supported the overall model and most of the hypothesized direct and indirect relationships among variables for both female and male samples. Examination of alternative models suggested that some expected relationships might have been suppressed by a high correlation between the friendship and peer-acceptance constructs. However, alternative models also showed that these constructs independently contribute to predicting motivational variables. The results illustrate the importance of peer relationships to adolescent physical activity motivation.

Alan L. Smith is with the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Leisure Studies at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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