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A. Justine Dowd, Toni Schmader, Benjamin D. Sylvester, Mary E. Jung, Bruno D. Zumbo, Luc J. Martin and Mark R. Beauchamp

The objective of the studies presented in this paper was to examine whether the need to belong can be used to enhance exercise cognitions and behavior. Two studies examined the effectiveness of framing exercise as a means of boosting social skills (versus health benefits) for self-regulatory efficacy, exercise intentions, and (in Study 2) exercise behavior. In Study 1, inactive adults primed to feel a lack of social belonging revealed that this manipulation led to greater self-regulatory efficacy (but not exercise intentions). In Study 2, involving a sample of inactive lonely adults, all participants reported engaging in more exercise; however, those in the social skills condition also reported a greater sense of belonging than those in the health benefits comparison condition. These findings provide an important basis for developing physical activity interventions that might be particularly relevant for people at risk for feeling socially isolated or lonely.

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Benjamin D. Sylvester, Martyn Standage, Tavinder K. Ark, Shane N. Sweet, Peter R.E. Crocker, Bruno D. Zumbo and Mark R. Beauchamp

In this study, we examined whether perceived variety in exercise prospectively predicts unique variance in exercise behavior when examined alongside satisfaction of the three basic psychological needs (for competence, relatedness, and autonomy) embedded within self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002), through the mediating role of autonomous and controlled motivation. A convenience sample of community adults (N = 363) completed online questionnaires twice over a 6-week period. The results of structural equation modeling showed perceived variety and satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness to be unique indirect positive predictors of exercise behavior (through autonomous motivation) 6 weeks later. In addition, satisfaction of the need for autonomy was found to negatively predict controlled motivation. Perceived variety in exercise complemented satisfaction of the needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy in predicting motivation and (indirectly) exercise behavior, and may act as a salient mechanism in the prediction of autonomous motivation and behavior in exercise settings.