This study presents a new, multidimensional approach to physical activity motivation that is operationalized through four primary factors: adaptive cognitive dimensions, adaptive behavioral dimensions, impeding cognitive dimensions, and maladaptive behavioral dimensions. Among 171 Australian high school students, the study assessed the structure of this four-factor framework (a within-network construct validity approach) and also examined the relationships between motivation and three key correlates: flow in physical activity, physical self-concept, and physical activity level (a between-network construct validity approach). The four-factor framework demonstrated within-network validity in the form of reliable subscales and a sound factor structure. In terms of between-network validity, relationships between the adaptive behavioral and cognitive aspects of motivation and physical self-concept, flow, and activity levels were found to be positive and significant, whereas significant inverse relationships were found between impeding and maladaptive motivation dimensions and flow and physical self-concept. Additional analysis utilizing multiple-indicator multiple-cause (MIMIC) modeling showed that during earlier adolescence girls are more motivated than boys to engage in physical activity, but by later adolescence boys are more motivated to do so. Results are interpreted in terms of future directions for possible physical activity interventions aimed at increasing both the uptake and continuation of activity.
The authors are with the SELF Research Centre, Bankstown Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW Australia 1797.