Self-Affirmation Promotes Physical Activity

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Aston University
  • 2 University of Sussex
  • 3 King’s College London
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The present study tests whether a self-affirmation intervention (i.e., requiring an individual to focus on a valued aspect of their self-concept, such as honesty) can increase physical activity and change theory of planned behavior (TPB) variables linked to physical activity. Eighty young people completed a longitudinal intervention study. Baseline physical activity was assessed using the Godin Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire (LTPAQ). Next, participants were randomly allocated to either a self-affirmation or a nonaffirmation condition. Participants then read information about physical activity and health, and completed measures of TPB variables. One week later, participants again completed LTPAQ and TPB items. At follow up, self-affirmed participants reported significantly more physical activity, more positive attitudes toward physical activity, and higher intentions to be physically active compared with nonaffirmed participants. Neither attitudes nor intentions mediated the effects of self-affirmation on physical activity. Self-affirmation can increase levels of physical activity and TPB variables. Self-affirmation interventions have the potential to become relatively simple methods for increasing physical activity levels.

Richard Cooke is with the Department of Psychology, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Helena Trebaczyk is with the Department of Psychology, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Peter Harris is with the Department of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. Alison J. Wright is with the Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK.