Goals are central to exercise motivation, although not all goals (e.g., health vs. appearance goals) are equally psychologically or behaviorally adaptive. Within goal content theory (Vansteenkiste, Niemiec, & Soenens, 2010), goals are adaptive to the extent to which they satisfy psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. However, little is known about what exercisers pursuing different goals are feeling, doing, thinking, and paying attention to that may help to explain the association between goal contents and need satisfaction. Using semistructured interviews and interpretative phenomenological analysis, we explored experiences of exercise among 11 adult exercisers who reported pursuing either predominantly intrinsic or extrinsic goals. Four themes emerged: (a) observation of others and resulting emotions, (b) goal expectations and time perspective, (c) markers of progress and (d) reactions to (lack of) goal achievement. Intrinsic and extrinsic goal pursuers reported divergent experiences within these four domains. The findings illuminate potential mechanisms by which different goals may influence psychological and behavioral outcomes in the exercise context.
Simon J. Sebire, Martyn Standage, Fiona B. Gillison, and Maarten Vansteenkiste
Lydia G. Emm-Collison, Martyn Standage, and Fiona B. Gillison
Grounded within self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, in press), three studies were conducted to develop and psychometrically test a measure of adolescents’ perceptions of psychological need support for exercise (viz., for autonomy, competence, and relatedness): the Adolescent Psychological Need Support in Exercise Questionnaire (APNSEQ). In Study 1, 34 items were developed in collaboration with an expert panel. Through categorical confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory, responses from 433 adolescents were used to identify the best fitting and performing items in Study 2. Here, a three-factor nine-item measure showed good fit to the data. In Study 3, responses from an independent sample of 373 adolescents provided further evidence for the nine-item solution as well as for internal consistency, criterion validity, and invariance across gender and social agent (friends, family, and physical education teacher). The APNSEQ was supported as a measure of adolescents’ perceptions of psychological need support within the context of exercise.
Martyn Standage, Fiona B. Gillison, Nikos Ntoumanis, and Darren C. Treasure
A three-wave prospective design was used to assess a model of motivation guided by self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2008) spanning the contexts of school physical education (PE) and exercise. The outcome variables examined were health-related quality of life (HRQoL), physical self-concept (PSC), and 4 days of objectively assessed estimates of activity. Secondary school students (n = 494) completed questionnaires at three separate time points and were familiarized with how to use a sealed pedometer. Results of structural equation modeling supported a model in which perceptions of autonomy support from a PE teacher positively predicted PE-related need satisfaction (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). Competence predicted PSC, whereas relatedness predicted HRQoL. Autonomy and competence positively predicted autonomous motivation toward PE, which in turn positively predicted autonomous motivation toward exercise (i.e., 4-day pedometer step count). Autonomous motivation toward exercise positively predicted step count, HRQoL, and PSC. Results of multisample structural equation modeling supported gender invariance. Suggestions for future work are discussed.