The Role of Self-Efficacy in Explaining Gender Differences in Physical Activity Among Adolescents: A Multilevel Analysis

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purposes of this study were to determine if a) gender moderated the relationship between self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) among youth in Alberta, Canada, and, alternatively b) if self-efficacy mediated the relationship between gender and PA.


A novel web-based tool was used to survey a regionally diverse sample of 4779 students (boys = 2222, girls = 2557) from 117 schools in grades 7 to 10 (mean age = 13.64 yrs.). Among other variables, students were asked about their PA and self-efficacy for participating in PA.


Based upon a series of multilevel analyses, self-efficacy was found to be a significantly stronger correlate of PA for girls. But, boys had significantly higher self-efficacy compared with girls, which resulted in significantly more PA.


Findings suggest self-efficacy is an important correlate of PA among adolescent girls but that boys are more physically active because they have more self-efficacy for PA.

Spence, Clark, and Plotnikoff are with the Dept of Physical Education & Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Blanchard is with the Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the Dept of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Storey and McCargar are with the Dept of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.