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  • Author: Joke Simons x
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Joke Simons, Siegfried Dewitte and Willy Lens

This study tested the hypothesis that the reason a person engages in a physical education activity (instrumentality) has an effect on his or her state goal orientation, time spent practicing, task enjoyment, motivation, effort, and ultimately on his/her performance. Participants, 695 college students (340 M, 355 F; mean age 19.7 years, range = 18–22) who were enrolled in physical education classes, learned a dribble-shooting basketball task. Before practicing it for 20 minutes, they received one of the three instructions underlining the personal and/or future relevance of the task. Instructions emphasizing the obligatory nature of the task led to a decrease in motivated behavior, performance, and state task orientation, but an increase in the state ego orientation. Instructions emphasizing the personal and future relevance enhanced state task orientation, motivated behavior, and performance. Instructions that only emphasized personal relevance fell in between. The results of this study showed that instructions are powerful tools that can easily affect the quality of motivation and either strengthen or undermine students’ motivational behavior, performance, and future participation, at least when students have little or no experience with the task.

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Maarten Vansteenkiste, Joke Simons, Bart Soenens and Willy Lens

The goal of the present study was to examine partially conflicting hypotheses derived from two motivational theories, namely self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000) and future time perspective theory (FTPT; Lens, 2001; Nuttin & Lens, 1985). In line with SDT, it was found that framing an exercise activity in terms of future intrinsic goal attainment (focusing on health and physical fitness) has a positive effect on effort expenditure, autonomous exercise motivation, performance, long-term persistence, and even sport club membership. On the other hand, framing an exercise activity in terms of future extrinsic goal attainment (focusing on physical appearance and attractiveness) undermined those outcomes compared to a no-future-goal control group. Correlational analyses indicate that future extrinsic goal framing led to non-autonomous persistence while future intrinsic goal framing resulted in autonomously driven perseverance at the free-choice activity. In contrast to FTPT, the no-future-goal control group did not differ from a future content-free goal group, in which the general future importance of the present task was stressed. Finally, presenting those goals in an autonomy-supportive rather than a controlling way resulted in the same motivational and behavioral benefits as future intrinsic goal framing. It is discussed how future time perspective theory and self-determination theory can be reconciled and integrated.