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C.K. John Wang and Stuart J.H. Biddle

A great deal has been written about the motivation of young people in physical activity, and the determinants of activity for this age group have been identified as a research priority. Despite this, there are few large-scale studies identifying “types” or “clusters” of young people based on their scores on validated motivation inventories. This study reports the results of a cluster analysis of a large national sample (n = 2,510) of 12- to 15-year-olds using contemporary approaches to physical activity motivation: achievement goal orientations, self-determination theory (including amotivation), the nature of athletic ability beliefs, and perceived competence. Five meaningful clusters were identified reflecting two highly motivated and two less well-motivated clusters, as well as a clearly amotivated cluster. Groupings were validated by investigating differences in physical activity participation and perceptions of physical self-worth. Some clusters reflected age and gender differences. The results provide valuable information for likely strategies to promote physical activity in young people.

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John C.K. Wang, Alexandre J.S. Morin, Richard M. Ryan and W.C. Liu

The purpose of the current study is to test the self-determination theory (SDT) continuum hypothesis of motivation using latent profile analysis (LPA). A total of 3,220 school students took part in the study. We compared LPA solutions estimated using the four motivation types versus the two higher-order dimensions to assess their degree of correspondence to the SDT continuum hypothesis. To examine the concurrent validity of the profiles, we also verified their associations with three predictors (age, gender, perception of physical education teachers’ autonomy-supportive behaviors) and two outcomes variables (perceived competence and intentions to be physically active). The results showed that profiling using the four motivation types provides more differentiated and meaningful description of responses to the Perceived Locus of Causality Scale, compared with profiling using two higher-order factors. In general, the results of the current study were consistent with the SDT continuum hypothesis of human motivation.

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John C. K. Wang, Woon Chia Liu, Nikos L. D. Chatzisarantis and Coral B. S. Lim

The purpose of the current study was to examine the influence of perceived motivational climate on achievement goals in physical education using a structural equation mixture modeling (SEMM) analysis. Within one analysis, we identified groups of students with homogenous profiles in perceptions of motivational climate and examined the relationships between motivational climate, 2 × 2 achievement goals, and affect, concurrently. The findings of the current study showed that there were at least two distinct groups of students with differing perceptions of motivational climate: one group of students had much higher perceptions in both climates compared with the other group. Regardless of their grouping, the relationships between motivational climate, achievement goals, and enjoyment seemed to be invariant. Mastery climate predicted the adoption of mastery-approach and mastery-avoidance goals; performance climate was related to performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Mastery-approach goal had a strong positive effect while performance-avoidance had a small negative effect on enjoyment. Overall, it was concluded that only perception of a mastery motivational climate in physical education may foster intrinsic interest in physical education through adoption of mastery-approach goals.

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Nikos L.D. Chatzisarantis, Martin S. Hagger, Stuart J.H. Biddle, Brett Smith and John C.K. Wang

The present article conducts a meta-analytic review of the research adopting the perceived locus of causality in the contexts of sport, exercise, and physical education. A literature search of published articles identified three main research foci: (a) the development of instruments that assess perceived locus of causality; (b) examination of the construct validity of perceived locus of causality by investigating the relevance of the self-determination continuum as well as by using antecedents (e.g., perceived competence) and outcomes (e.g., intentions); and (c) integration of Nicholls’ (1984) concepts of task and ego orientation with perceived locus of causality. A meta-analysis using 21 published articles supported the existence of a self-determination continuum from external regulation to introjection and identification. In addition, path analysis of corrected effect sizes supported the mediating effects of perceived locus of causality on the relationship between perceived competence and intentions. Results are discussed with reference to the assumptions of self-determination theory, Vallerand’s (1997) hierarchical model of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and theories of behavioral intentions.

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Martin S. Hagger, Nikos L.D. Chatzisarantis, Vassilis Barkoukis, John C.K. Wang, Vello Hein, Maret Pihu, Istvan Soós and Istvan Karsai

The present study tested the cross-cultural generalizability of the measurement and structural parameters of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) among youth in a physical activity context. Pupils from five cultural groups completed measures of attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control (PBC), and intentions for physical activity. Five weeks later, participants completed self-report measures of physical activity behavior. Confirmatory factor analyses and multisample structural equation models revealed well-fitting models within each sample with minimal variations in the measurement parameters across cultures. There were a few significant cross-cultural differences in the structural relations among the TPB constructs. Attitudes predicted intentions in all samples (β range = .300 to .550), whereas the effect of the subjective norms on intention was nonsignificant in all but the Hungarian sample (β = .243). Conversely, the effect of PBC on intentions was significant (β range = .302 to .573) in all but the Hungarian sample. Findings support the generalizability of the measures and pattern of effects for the TPB among young people in a physical activity context.