Research in self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002) has shown that satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs in sport contexts is associated with enhanced engagement, performance, and well-being. This article outlines the initial development of a multidimensional measure designed to assess psychological need thwarting, an under-studied area of conceptual and practical importance. Study 1 generated a pool of items designed to tap the negative experiential state that occurs when athletes perceive their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness to be actively undermined. Study 2 tested the factorial structure of the questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. The supported model comprised 3 factors, which represented the hypothesized interrelated dimensions of need thwarting. The model was refined and cross-validated using an independent sample in Study 3. Overall, the psychological need thwarting scale (PNTS) demonstrated good content, factorial, and predictive validity, as well as internal consistency and invariance across gender, sport type, competitive level, and competitive experience. The conceptualization of psychological need thwarting is discussed, and suggestions are made regarding the use of the PNTS in research pertaining to the darker side of sport participation.
Kimberley J. Bartholomew, Nikos Ntoumanis, Richard M. Ryan, and Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani
Marlene Kritz, Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Barbara Mullan, Afroditi Stathi, and Nikos Ntoumanis
The authors examined whether purposeful walking with peers at least once a week contributes to better behavioral and health outcomes in older adults than primarily walking alone. The authors used a longitudinal cohort design and recruited participants aged 60 years and older (N = 136) at the start of a 16-week walking intervention. Participants who walked on average at least once a week in the final 8 weeks of the intervention were included in the analysis (N = 79; 66 females, M age [SD] = 77.73 [6.91]). The authors found that autonomous motivation, walking self-efficacy, functional capacity, body fat, and physical activity improved more in the walking with peers group compared with the walking alone group, after controlling for whether participants lived alone/with others and their health status. The results extend current literature by providing longitudinal evidence for the added benefits of regular peer-accompanied walking in older adults and highlight the importance of investing in peer-supported interventions.
Eleanor Quested, Nikos Ntoumanis, Andreas Stenling, Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani, and Jennie E. Hancox
Purpose: This article outlines the development and validation of the Need-Relevant Instructor Behaviors Scale (NIBS). Drawing from self-determination theory, the NIBS is the first observation tool designed to code the frequency and the intensity of autonomy-, competence-, and relatedness-relevant behaviors of exercise instructors. The scale also captures the frequency of need-indifferent behaviors. Methods: The behaviors of 27 exercise instructors were coded by trained raters on two occasions, before and after they received training in adaptive motivational communication. Results: Findings supported the structural validity and reliability of the scale. The scale’s sensitivity to detect changes in frequency and intensity of need-relevant behaviors was also evidenced. Conclusions: The NIBS is a new tool that offers a unique, tripartite assessment of need-relevant behaviors of leaders in the physical activity domain.
Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Anthony Papathomas, Jonathan Foster, Eleanor Quested, and Nikos Ntoumanis
We explored perceptions of social dance as a possible intervention to improve cognitive function in older adults with subjective memory complaints. A total of 30 participants (19 females; mean age = 72.6 years; SD = 8.2) took part in the study. This included 21 participants who had self-reported subjective memory complaints and nine spouses who noticed spousal memory loss. Semistructured interviews were conducted, and a thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Three main themes were constructed: (a) dance seen as a means of promoting social interaction; (b) chronic illness as a barrier and facilitator to participation; and (c) social dance representing nostalgic connections to the past. Overall, the participants were positive about the potential attractiveness of social dance to improve cognitive and social functioning and other aspects of health. In future research, it is important to examine the feasibility of a social dance intervention among older adults with subjective memory complaints.
Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Nikos Ntoumanis, Jennifer Cumming, Kimberley J. Bartholomew, and Gemma Pearce
Using objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997), this study tested the interaction between self-objectification, appearance evaluation, and self-esteem in predicting body satisfaction and mood states. Participants (N = 93) were physically active female university students. State self-objectification was manipulated by participants wearing tight revealing exercise attire (experimental condition) or baggy exercise clothes (control condition). Significant interactions emerged predicting depression, anger, fatness, and satisfaction with body shape and size. For participants in the self-objectification condition who had low (as opposed to high) appearance evaluation, low self-esteem was associated with high depression, anger, and fatness and low satisfaction with body shape and size. In contrast, for participants with high self-esteem, these mood and body satisfaction states were more favorable irrespective of their levels of appearance evaluation. For female exercisers, self-esteem-enhancing strategies may protect against some of the negative outcomes of self-objectification.
Timothy C. Howle, James A. Dimmock, Nikos Ntoumanis, Nikos L.D. Chatzisarantis, Cassandra Sparks, and Ben Jackson
We tested the effects of advertisements about a fictitious exercise class—derived using the theoretical constructs of agency and communion—on recipients’ perceptions about, and interest in, the class. The final sample consisted of 150 adults (M age = 44.69, SD = 15.83). Results revealed that participants who received a communal-oriented message reported significantly greater exercise task self-efficacy and more positive affective attitudes relative to those who received an agentic-oriented message. Communal (relative to agentic) messages were also indirectly responsible for greater intentions to attend the class, via more positive self-efficacy beliefs and affective attitudes. These findings were obtained despite the use of another manipulation to orient participants to either agency or communion goals. The results indicate that the primacy of communion over agency for message recipients may extend to exercise settings and may occur irrespective of whether participants are situationally oriented toward agency or communion.
Nikos L. D. Chatzisarantis, Vassilis Barkoukis, Panagiotis Petridis, Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Nikos Ntoumanis, Sandra Gountas, John Gountas, Dimitrios Adam, and Martin S. Hagger
Previous research documented that “extremely high prioritization” strategies that involved allocation of all resources for time or energy on pursuing goals related to leisure-time physical activity and none of available resources on competing behavioral goals were optimal in terms of yielding highest levels of participation in physical activities. This study examined whether a “marginally higher prioritization” strategy that involved an intention to invest large but slightly more resources on physical activity than competing behaviors was optimal. In addition, we examined whether linear and quadratic models supported different conclusions about optimal prioritizations strategies. Response surface analyses of a quadratic model revealed that marginally higher prioritization was the most effective strategy. In addition, a linear regression model led us to incorrectly reject a “simultaneous goal pursuit” strategy in favor of an extremely high prioritization strategy. Findings suggest that prioritization strategies that “garner” low opportunity costs are the most optimal.
Calum Alexander Arthur, Tim Woodman, Chin Wei Ong, Lew Hardy, and Nikos Ntoumanis
Leadership research that examines follower characteristics as a potential moderator of leadership effectiveness is lacking. Within Bass’s (1985) transformational leadership framework, we examined follower narcissism as a moderator of the coach behavior–coach effectiveness relationship. Youth athletes (male = 103, female = 106) from the Singapore Sports Academy (mean age = 14.28, SD = 1.40 years) completed the Differentiated Transformational Leadership Inventory (Callow, Smith, Hardy, Arthur, & Hardy, 2009), the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Raskin & Terry, 1988), and indices of follower effort. Multilevel analyses revealed that athlete narcissism moderated the relationship between fostering acceptance of group goals and athlete effort and between high performance expectations and athlete effort. All the other transformational leader behaviors demonstrated main effects on follower effort, except for inspirational motivation.
John W. Mahoney, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Nikos Ntoumanis, and Cliff J. Mallet
We argue that basic psychological needs theory (BPNT) offers impetus to the value of mental toughness as a mechanism for optimizing human functioning. We hypothesized that psychological needs satisfaction (thwarting) would be associated with higher (lower) levels of mental toughness, positive affect, and performance and lower (higher) levels of negative affect. We also expected that mental toughness would be associated with higher levels of positive affect and performance and lower levels of negative affect. Further, we predicted that coaching environments would be related to mental toughness indirectly through psychological needs and that psychological needs would indirectly relate with performance and affect through mental toughness. Adolescent cross-country runners (136 male and 85 female, M age = 14.36) completed questionnaires pertaining to BPNT variables, mental toughness, and affect. Race times were also collected. Our findings supported our hypotheses. We concluded that BPNT is generative in understanding some of the antecedents and consequences of mental toughness and is a novel framework useful for understanding mental toughness.
Doris Matosic, Nikos Ntoumanis, Ian David Boardley, Andreas Stenling, and Constantine Sedikides
Research on coaching (Bartholomew, Ntoumanis, & Thøgersen-Ntoumani, 2009) has shown that coaches can display controlling behaviors that have detrimental effects on athletes’ basic psychological needs and quality of sport experiences. The current study extends this literature by considering coach narcissism as a potential antecedent of coaches’ controlling behaviors. Further, the study tests a model linking coaches’ (n = 59) own reports of narcissistic tendencies with athletes’ (n = 493) perceptions of coach controlling behaviors, experiences of need frustration, and attitudes toward doping. Multilevel path analysis revealed that coach narcissism was directly and positively associated with athletes’ perceptions of controlling behaviors and was indirectly and positively associated with athletes’ reports of needs frustration. In addition, athletes’ perceptions of coach behaviors were positively associated—directly and indirectly—with attitudes toward doping. The findings advance understanding of controlling coach behaviors, their potential antecedents, and their associations with athletes’ attitudes toward doping.