Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior to Physical Activity: The Moderating Role of Mental Toughness

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Thomas E. HannanAustralian Catholic University

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Robyn L. MoffittAustralian Catholic University
Griffith University
Menzies Health Institute Queensland

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David L. NeumannGriffith University
Menzies Health Institute Queensland

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Patrick R. ThomasGriffith University
Menzies Health Institute Queensland

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This study explored whether mental toughness, the capacity to maintain performance under pressure, moderated the relation between physical activity intentions and subsequent behavior. Participants (N = 117) completed the Mental Toughness Index and a theory of planned behavior questionnaire. Seven days later, physical activity was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control explained substantial variance (63.1%) in physical activity intentions. Intentions also significantly predicted physical activity behavior. The simple slopes analyses for the moderation effect revealed a nonsignificant intention–behavior relation at low levels of mental toughness. However, intentions were significantly and positively related to physical activity when mental toughness was moderate or high, suggesting that the development of a mentally tough mindset may reduce the gap between behavior and physical activity intention. Future research is needed to confirm these findings and apply them in the design of mental toughness interventions to facilitate physical activity engagement.

Thomas E. Hannan is with the School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Queensland, Australia. Robyn L. Moffitt is with the School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Queensland, Australia, the School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, and with Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Queensland, Australia. David L. Neumann is with the School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, and with Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Queensland, Australia. Patrick R. Thomas is with the School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, and with Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Queensland, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Thomas E. Hannan at thomasehannan@gmail.com.
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