Children’s Motivation Profiles in Sports and Physical Activities: A Latent Profile Analysis and Self-Determination Theory Approach

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Annette Lohbeck Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany

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Andreas Hohmann Faculty of Cultural Studies, Sport Science I, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany

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Philipp von Keitz Educational Psychology, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

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Monika Daseking Educational Psychology, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

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Using latent profile analysis and self-determination theory, the present study aimed to examine younger children’s motivation profiles in sports and physical activities and the relations of those profiles to various predictors and achievement outcomes. A total of 1,116 German children from Grade 2 participated in this study. Latent-profile-analysis solutions based on five behavioral-regulation types covered in self-determination theory (i.e., intrinsic, identified, introjected, external, amotivation) were tested. Results favored a three-profile solution, showing three theoretically meaningful and distinct motivation profiles labeled “amotivated,” “non-self-determined,” and “self-determined.” Older children and children with a lower physical self-concept were more likely to be members of the amotivated profile relative to the other profiles than younger children and children with a higher physical self-concept. Furthermore, children of the self-determined profile demonstrated the best physical performance in various motor-skills tests.

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