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Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT), this study had two purposes: (a) examine the associations between intrinsic (relative to extrinsic) exercise goal content and cognitive, affective, and behavioral Outcomes: and (b) test the mediating role of psychological need satisfaction in the Exercise Goal Content -> Outcomes relationship. Using a sample of 410 adults, hierarchical regression analysis showed relative intrinsic goal content to positively predict physical self-worth, self-reported exercise behavior, psychological well-being, and psychological need satisfaction and negatively predict exercise anxiety. Except for exercise behavior, the predictive utility of relative intrinsic goal content oil the dependent variables of interest remained significant after controlling for participants' relative self-determined exercise motivation. Structural equation modeling analyses showed psychological need satisfaction to partially mediate the effect of relative intrinsic goal content Oil the outcome variables. Our findings support further investigation of exercise goals commensurate with the goal content perspective advanced in SDT.
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Examining Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic
Exercise Goals: Cognitive, Affective,
and Behavioral Outcomes
Simon J. Sebire,1 Martyn Standage,1
and Maarten Vansteenkiste2
1University of Bath and 2University of Gent
Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT), this study had two purposes: (a) exam-
ine the associations between intrinsic (relative to extrinsic) exercise goal content and
cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes; and (b) test the mediating role of psy-
chological need satisfaction in the Exercise Goal Content Outcomes relationship.
Using a sample of 410 adults, hierarchical regression analysis showed relative intrinsic
goal content to positively predict physical self-worth, self-reported exercise behavior,
psychological well-being, and psychological need satisfaction and negatively
exercise anxiety. Except for exercise behavior, the predictive utility of relative intrin-
sic goal content on the dependent variables of interest remained signicant after con-
trolling for participants’ relative self-determined exercise motivation. Structural
equation modeling analyses showed psychological need satisfaction to partially medi-
ate the effect of relative intrinsic goal content on the outcome variables. Our ndings
support further investigation of exercise goals commensurate with the goal content
perspective advanced in SDT.
Keywords: exercise goals, psychological need satisfaction, self-determination theory
The goals on which individuals focus their exercise efforts (e.g., to improve
their health or to enhance their appearance) are a common foundation from which
to explore the motivation for, and the experiences of, exercise engagement. It is
postulated within self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) that “all
goals are not created equal” (Ryan, Sheldon, Kasser, & Deci, 1996, p. 7) and that
valuing goals with different foci will be differentially associated with well-being
and adjustment outcomes (Vansteenkiste, Lens, & Deci, 2006).
Specically within SDT, goals with intrinsic and extrinsic content are distin-
guished. Intrinsic goals are those focused toward developing one’s personal interests,
values, and potentials and are inherently satisfying to pursue. These characteristics
Sebire and Standage are with Motivation for Sport, Exercise, and Health (MESH), the School for
Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom, and Vansteenkiste is with the Department of
Psychology, University of Gent, Gent, Belgium.
Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 2009, 31, 189-210
© 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc.
190 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
align with the organismic foundations of the self within SDT, as humans are consid-
ered to be active and have an innate tendency to develop and rene their sense of self
(Deci & Ryan, 2000). Extrinsic goals are primarily characterized by having an “out-
ward” orientation, with one’s pursuits being directed toward external indicators of
worth such as wealth, fame, and appealing image (Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996; Van-
steenkiste et al., 2006). Unlike intrinsic goal pursuit, Deci and Ryan (2000) contend
that extrinsic goal pursuit neither stems from nor contributes to the development of
oneself and may be antithetical to it. Past work focused on people’s life aspirations
has considered goals such as community contribution, social afliation, health and
tness, and self-acceptance to reect intrinsic goals, whereas nancial success,
appearance, popularity, power, and conformity have been categorized as extrinsic
goals (Grouzet et al., 2005; Kasser & Ryan, 1996; Vansteenkiste, Neyrinck, et al.,
2007). The pursuit of intrinsic versus extrinsic life goals has been positively associ-
ated with well-being (e.g., self-actualization and vitality) and negatively associated
with indices of ill-being (e.g., depression and anxiety (see Kasser, 2002; Vansteenkiste,
Soenens, & Duriez, 2008 for an overview). Moreover, recent research has found that
intrinsic versus extrinsic goals within specic life domains are associated with adap-
tive outcomes such as greater job-based satisfaction, vitality, and less emotional
exhaustion (Vansteenkiste, Neyrinck, et al., 2007). The purpose of the current study
was to extend this line of inquiry to the exercise domain. Specically, we sought to
(a) investigate the associations between relative intrinsic exercise goals and a number
of exercise-based outcomes (i.e., self-reported leisure time exercise engagement,
exercise-based anxiety, physical self-worth, psychological well-being, and psycho-
logical need satisfaction) and (b) test whether any associations identied between
exercise goals and outcomes were mediated by exercise-based psychological need
satisfaction as forwarded within SDT.
Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Exercise Goal Content
The effects of what in SDT is termed goal content has received some prior
research attention in the exercise domain, in which case the term exercise
motives, or reasons, was used (Ingledew & Markland, 2008; Maltby & Day,
2001; Markland & Ingledew, 1997, 2007; Silberstein, Striegel-Moore, Timko, &
Rodin, 1988). Although informative and often couched in Deci and Ryan’s
framework, this work has not always been directly aligned with the goal content
perspective advanced in SDT (see Sebire, Standage, & Vansteenkiste, 2008). In
an attempt to extend goal content research to the exercise context, in our recent
work we made a concerted effort to align goal categorizations with the writings
of Deci, Ryan, and their colleagues (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Kasser & Ryan, 1996;
Sheldon, Ryan, Deci, & Kasser, 2004). Aligned with denitions of intrinsic and
extrinsic life aspirations (Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996), we labeled domain-spe-
cic exercise goals for health management, skill development, and social afli-
ation as having intrinsic content (i.e., reecting a more self-actualizing
orientation), and exercise goals of image improvement and social recognition as
having extrinsic content (i.e., an outward orientation) (Sebire et al., 2008). By
studying goal contents that align with the intrinsic/extrinsic goal denitions for-
Exercise Goal Content 191
warded in SDT, we can attempt to further understand motivation for exercise by
gaining conceptual precision, which in turn facilitates the examination of theo-
retically derived hypotheses.1
There is a growing body of empirical evidence to suggest that exercising in
the service of intrinsic and extrinsic goals yields differential outcomes. For exam-
ple, although not coming from a SDT perspective, Crawford and Eklund’s (1994)
work with a sample of college-age females documented that the exercise goal of
improved appearance (i.e., an extrinsic goal) was positively related, whereas
health goals (i.e., an intrinsic goal) were unrelated, to social physique anxiety.
Similarly, among regularly exercising undergraduate students, holding appear-
ance-based exercise goals has been shown to correlate positively with indices of
ill-being and negatively with self-esteem (Maltby & Day, 2001). Lastly, in a
sample of male and female rst-time tness center members, tness, competence
(measuring skill development) and social interaction goals positively correlated
with class attendance and workout enjoyment, whereas appearance goals were
unrelated to attendance, exercise adherence, and enjoyment (Ryan, Frederick,
Lepes, Rubio, & Sheldon, 1997, Study 2).
Although the lack of a measure of exercise-based goal content aligned with
the conceptualization of intrinsic and extrinsic goals within SDT has precluded
past research from exploring the concomitants of participants’ reported goals,
experimental work has examined the contextual promotion of intrinsic and extrin-
sic goals (see Vansteenkiste, Soenens, & Lens, 2007 for a review). For example,
Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens, Sheldon, and Deci (2004, Study 3) compared a group
of high school students who, before learning tae-bo exercises, read a motivational
script based on intrinsic goals (informing them that learning tae-bo could help
improve their tness / health) with students who read an extrinsic goal-focused
motivational script (informing them that learning tae-bo exercise was a useful way
to improve their appearance). The intrinsic goal-framing group displayed greater
behavioral persistence and graded performance on the tae-bo exercise.
In a further study, Vansteenkiste, Simons, Soenens, and Lens (2004) demon-
strated that students exposed to an intrinsic goal manipulation displayed better
performance and greater short- and long-term behavioral persistence at the tae-bo
exercise than students in a control group who were not exposed to any goal manip-
ulation (i.e., neither intrinsic nor extrinsic goal promotion). Those exposed to an
extrinsic goal manipulation displayed reduced performance compared with both
those participants involved in the control and intrinsic goal condition. Interest-
ingly, the pattern of persistence of those involved in the extrinsic goal relative to
the control group was mixed, with extrinsic goal framing resulting in less short-
term persistence, greater medium-term persistence, and equally low long-term
persistence. Follow-up within-condition correlation analyses indicated, however,
that extrinsic goal-oriented individuals’ persistence was not associated with enjoy-
ment and valuation of the activity, whereas it was for those in the control group.
Vansteenkiste, Simons, Soenens, et al. (2004) argued that the persistence of those
in the extrinsic goal condition was less authentic in nature, presumably because it
was more strongly oriented toward attaining the primed external indicators of
worth. Nevertheless, the ndings showed that extrinsic goal framing might prompt
individuals to put forth extra effort in the exercise activity at hand.
192 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goal Content
and Psychological Need Satisfaction
From the SDT perspective, the aforementioned differential effects of intrinsic and
extrinsic exercise goal pursuit are brought about owing to the degree to which the
different goal contents promote satisfaction of individuals’ basic psychological
needs. Within SDT, three psychological needs are forwarded: autonomy (to expe-
rience oneself as the originator of one’s behavior), competence (to feel that one
can master challenges), and relatedness (to feel a sense of meaningful connected-
ness within one’s social milieu) (Deci & Ryan, 2000).
Supporting this theoretical reasoning, Rijavec, Brdar, and Miljković (2006)
reported intrinsic, relative to extrinsic life goal pursuit to be positively associated
with general need satisfaction (also see Kasser, 2002, for an overview). Further,
work in the organizational domain has found the suppression of employees’ psy-
chological need satisfaction within the work place to mediate the negative rela-
tionships between relative extrinsic work goal pursuit and work-related outcomes
(viz., job vitality, job satisfaction, and dedication) (Vansteenkiste, Neyrinck et al.,
2007). As the satisfaction of one’s basic psychological needs represents a critical
mechanism by which the disparate effects of intrinsic and extrinsic goal pursuit on
outcome variables may be explained (Vansteenkiste, Soenens et al., 2007), in the
present work we expected need satisfaction to mediate the Relative Intrinsic
Goal Outcome Variable relationship.
Distinguishing Exercise Goal Content
and Behavioral Regulation
It is important to note that within SDT, the content of goals (i.e., intrinsic vs.
extrinsic) is conceptually distinguished from the behavioral regulation with
which goals are pursued (i.e., whether one’s motivation is autonomous or con-
trolled). Whereas autonomous motivation stems from the inherent satisfaction or
pleasure that a behavior brings (intrinsic motivation) from aligning one’s actions
with other aspects of the self (integrated regulation) or from personally valuing
a behavior (identied regulation), controlled motivation reects behavioral
enactment to attain ego enhancement, to suppress intraindividual feelings of
guilt, shame, and anxiety (introjected regulation), or to comply with external
pressuring demands (external regulation) (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Theoretically, it
is maintained that intrinsic and extrinsic goals can be pursued for both autono-
mous and controlled reasons (Deci & Ryan, 2000). To illustrate the distinction,
an individual may attend an exercise class to improve their health (an intrinsic
goal) because they personally value good health (autonomous behavioral regula-
tion), or because they feel pressured to improve their health by a medical practi-
tioner (controlled behavioral regulation). Alternatively, an individual may work
out to improve their appearance and physical appeal (an extrinsic goal) because
they personally value looking good (autonomous behavioral regulation) or
because they feel guilty if they do not look good for their partner (controlled
behavioral regulation).
Exercise Goal Content 193
Although goal contents and behavioral regulations are conceptually separated
within SDT, debate exists as to whether this theorizing is supported empirically.
Specically, Carver and Baird (1998) and Srivastava, Locke, and Bartol (2001)
have challenged the ndings of previous investigations of goal content and well-
being (Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996) by suggesting that the detrimental effects of
pursuing nancial success aspirations were reducible to the controlled behavioral
regulation associated with such extrinsic goal pursuit. In response to these sugges-
tions, Sheldon et al. (2004) reported a series of studies showing that even though
intrinsic and extrinsic goals are positively correlated with autonomous and con-
trolled behavioral regulations, respectively, both facets predict well-being and
adjustment outcomes at the global life level. Such work supports the tenets of
SDT and implies that both goal content and behavioral regulation are important in
understanding the cognitive and affective correlates of motivational pursuits (Deci
& Ryan, 2000).
In the exercise context, mixed support has emerged with respect to the dis-
tinction between goal content and behavioral regulation in predicting behavioral
outcomes. For instance, in a study of adolescents’ exercise goals as individual
difference variables, Gillison, Standage, and Skevington (2006) found that in line
with the theoretical hypotheses set out in SDT, relationships between intrinsic
and extrinsic exercise goal content and self-reported exercise behavior were only
partially mediated by self-determined exercise motivation. In contrast, a recent
study by Ingledew and Markland (2008) found support for a motivational model
specifying exercise goal content as an antecedent to exercise behavioral regula-
tion, which in turn predicted exercise engagement. Similar ndings have been
reported in investigations in which exercise goals were experimentally manipu-
lated (Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens, et al., 2004, Study 3). In this instance, after
controlling for students’ autonomous motivation, manipulated exercise goal con-
tent did not directly predict behavioral persistence assessed via student participa-
tion in a free-choice exercise activity although it was uniquely predictive of
students’ rated performance.
The Present Research
This investigation had two main purposes. The rst aim was to extend SDT-based
research that has previously focused on life aspirations to the exercise domain
and explore whether intrinsic relative to extrinsic exercise goals were associated
with adaptive exercise outcomes. We hypothesized that relative intrinsic exercise
goals would positively predict physical self-worth, psychological well-being,
exercise behavior, and psychological need satisfaction and would negatively pre-
dict exercise anxiety. These variables provide a broad set of outcomes to investi-
gate the effect of different exercise goal pursuit that align with SDT and are
relevant to exercise and general life contexts. Within this aim, aligned with previ-
ous work in the general life domain (Sheldon et al., 2004), we sought to explore
whether the relationships identied between goals and outcomes would remain
signicant above and beyond exercise-based behavioral regulations. In addition,
we expected these relationships to be present after controlling for the effects of
two demographic variables (i.e., age and gender). There is evidence to suggest
194 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
that advancing age is negatively related to social physique anxiety (Thøgersen-
Ntoumani & Ntoumanis, 2006) and physical activity (Davis & Fox, 2006) and is
differently associated with aspects of psychological well-being (Keyes & Water-
man, 2003). In addition, relative to females, males report greater participation in
health- promoting physical activity (Martin, Morrow, Jackson, & Dunn, 2000),
greater physical self-worth (Fox & Corbin, 1989; Hayes, Crocker, & Kowalski,
1999), and less social physique anxiety (Thøgersen-Ntoumani & Ntoumanis,
2006). Our second aim was to explore the hypothesized mediating role of need
satisfaction in the relationships proposed in SDT to exist between relative intrin-
sic exercise goals and exercise-related outcomes. It was hypothesized that psy-
chological need satisfaction would mediate these associations.
The initial pool of respondents comprised 424 council employees (i.e., administra-
tive, professional, clerical, and technical employees of local government). To ensure
that the sample consisted only of individuals who reported participation in at least
some mild exercise, 14 individuals who reported no mild, moderate, or vigorous
exercise sessions were excluded from subsequent analyses. The nal sample (N =
410) consisted of 118 males and 292 females (M age = 41.39 years; SD = 11.02;
range = 20–67 years); 97.5% of participants were White.
Following the approval of a local ethics committee and the consent of seven Local
Authorities from the South West of England, an e-mail was sent inviting employ-
ees to participate in an online study of exercise attitudes and behaviors. Data were
collected using online questionnaires, accessed through a URL to the study Web
site that was included in the recruitment e-mail. Participants were required to tick
a box indicating their informed consent. Nonconsenting participants were invited
to close their Web browser.
Exercise Goal Content. The Goal Content for Exercise Questionnaire (GCEQ;
Sebire et al., 2008) is a 20-item measure that assesses the importance that people
place on three intrinsic (health management, skill development, and social aflia-
tion) and two extrinsic (image and social recognition) exercise goals each indexed
by four items. Participants responded to the stem “please indicate to what extent
these goals are important for you while exercising” using a 7-point scale ranging
from 1 (not at all important) to 7 (extremely important). In the present work, the
internal consistency of the subscales was as follows: health management = .80,
skill development = .86, social afliation = .82, image = .87, and social
recognition = .92. A relative intrinsic goals variable2 was calculated by subtract-
ing the mean of extrinsic goal subscales ( = .83) from the mean of intrinsic goal
subscales ( = .85). Because the GCEQ is a recently developed instrument, we
Exercise Goal Content 195
performed both rst- and second-order conrmatory factor analyses to assess evi-
dence pertaining to structural validity. Results supported the structural validity of
the GCEQ scores in the present sample: First-order CFA: 2(160) = 475.27,
p < .001; CFI = .95; SRMR = .05. Second-order CFA: 2(164) = 596.59, p < .001;
CFI = .93; SRMR = .09.
Exercise Behavioral Regulation. The Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Ques-
tionnaire (BREQ; Mullan, Markland, & Ingledew, 1997) was used to assess the
quality of participants’ motivation toward exercise. Aligned with the conceptual-
ization of motivation forwarded in SDT, the BREQ comprises 15-items assessing
intrinsic, identied, introjected, and external motivational regulations. Items are
preceded by the stem “why do you exercise?” and are scored on a 5-point Likert
scale ranging from 0 (not true for me) to 4 (very true for me). In the current study,
the internal consistency of the subscales were as follows: intrinsic regulation =
.92, identied regulation = .77, introjected regulation = .78, and external regu-
lation = .73. The motivation subscales were used to compute a relative auton-
omy index (RAI). Consistent with theory and past work (e.g., McDonough &
Crocker, 2007; Standage & Gillison, 2007), and after conrming that the four
regulatory styles conformed to a simplex pattern (i.e., more proximal regulations
on the continuum correlated to a higher degree than more distal regulations) in
the present data, the RAI was calculated using the following equation: (external
regulation −2) + (introjected regulation −1) + (identied regulation 1) +
(intrinsic regulation 2).
Psychological Need Satisfaction. Satisfaction of the psychological needs for
autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the context of exercise was assessed
using the Psychological Need Satisfaction in Exercise Questionnaire (PNSE;
Wilson, Rogers, Rodgers, & Wild, 2006). The PNSE assesses each need with six
items scored on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (false) to 6 (true). In the
current study, the internal consistencies of the subscales were autonomy = .95,
competence = .93, and relatedness = .94. The 18-items were averaged to
create a composite psychological need satisfaction in exercise score ( = .92).3
Exercise Anxiety. Exercise-related social anxiety was assessed via the Physical
Activity and Sport Anxiety Scale (PASAS; Norton, Hope, & Weeks, 2004). The
PASAS is a 16-item measure that assesses individuals’ fear of negative evaluation
and related avoidance in the physical activity and athletic domains (e.g., “I feel
nervous if other people are watching me when I am exercising / working out”)
using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (extremely uncharacteristic of me) to
5 (extremely characteristic of me). Item responses were summed to form an anxi-
ety score ( = .94).
Physical Self-Worth. The six-item physical self-worth subscale from the
Physical Self Perception Prole (PSPP; Fox & Corbin, 1989) was used to assess
perceptions of worth regarding aspects of the physical self (i.e., happiness, sat-
isfaction, pride, respect and condence). When completing the PSPP, partici-
pants are presented with two statements describing how a person perceives their
physical self: for example, “Some people feel extremely satised with the kind
of person they are physically BUT others sometimes feel a little dissatised
with their physical selves.” Participants are rst asked to decide which of the
196 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
statements best describes them and then to endorse the chosen statement as
either sort of true for me or very true for me. Reverse scoring was applied to
appropriate items, and the six items were then averaged to form an overall phys-
ical self-worth score ( = .87).
Leisure Time Exercise Participation. The Godin Leisure Time Exercise Ques-
tionnaire (LTEQ; Godin & Shephard, 1985) was employed to obtain self-reported
frequency of participation in mild, moderate, and strenuous exercise in bouts
greater than 15 min during a typical week. A total exercise index was computed
by assigning the mild, moderate, and strenuous scores weights of 3, 5, and 9
METs (metabolic equivalents), respectively, and summing these weighted
scores. The LTEQ has demonstrated validity in comparison with objective
assessment tools such as accelerometers (Jacobs, Ainsworth, Hartman, & Leon,
Psychological Well-Being. Consistent with past work (e.g., Ryan & Deci,
2001), two indicators were combined to provide a composite score of psychologi-
cal well-being. The seven-item Subjective Vitality Scale (Ryan & Frederick, 1997)
was used to assess feelings of vitality (e.g., “I feel energized”). Items are scored
on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
The alpha coefcient in the current study was = .94. In addition, the Depression-
Happiness Scale (McGreal & Joseph, 1993) was employed to assess feelings of
depression and happiness experienced in the past week. This scale consists of 25
items (e.g., “I felt cheerful” and “I felt like crying”) rated on a 4-point Likert scale
ranging from 0 (never) to 3 (often). Responses were scored in a bipolar fashion in
which depression item scores were reversed and then summed with scores on hap-
piness items ( = .93). Higher scores reect greater perceptions of happiness and
lower feelings of depression. Scores for vitality and depression-happiness were
summed to form a composite psychological well-being variable.
Descriptive Statistics and Relationships
Among Study Variables
Table 1 presents descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations showing associa-
tions among the study variables. Participant age was positively, albeit weakly
correlated with psychological well-being, and negatively correlated with exercise
behavior. In addition, independent t-tests revealed that females reported signi-
cantly greater exercise anxiety than males (Ms = 40.82, SD = 15.04, and 35.01,
SD = 13.65, respectively) t(422) = −3.62, p < .01 (Hedges’s g = 0.40), and signi-
cantly lower physical self-worth (Ms = 2.42, SD = 0.63, and 2.65, SD = 0.55,
respectively) t(422) = 3.39, p < .01 (Hedges’s g = −0.38). Females also tended to
report less exercise participation than males (Ms = 39.71, SD = 24.52, and 44.64,
SD = 21.70 respectively) t(422) = 1.92, p = .06 (Hedges’s g = −0.21). As expected,
relative intrinsic exercise goals correlated positively with RAI.4 Further, both
goal constructs displayed correlations with the dependent variables in the
expected directions.
Table 1 Descriptive Statistics and Bivariate Correlations Among Study Variables
Variable M SD 12345678
1. Age 41.39 11.02
2. Relative intrinsic goals 0.92 1.05 .11*
3. Relative autonomy 6.37 3.27 .18* .41**
4. Need satisfaction 4.17 0.89 −.07# .29** .50**
5. Exercise anxiety 39.14 14.87 −.08 −.33** −.45** −.28**
6. Physical self-worth 2.50 0.62 .10* .36** .52** .42** −.54**
7. Exercise behavior 41.13 22.62 −.09 .13** .38** .34** −.23** .28**
8. Psychological well-being 57.51 13.06 .15** .29** .46** .27** −.39** .51** .23**
Note. *p < .05, **p < .01.
198 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
Effects of Relative Intrinsic Goal Content
on Criterion Variables
As previous work has shown goal content and behavioral regulations to be corre-
lated (Sheldon et al., 2004), before conducting the regression analyses the data
were screened for evidence of collinearity in line with the recommendations of
(Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). The variance ination factor (1.00–1.21) and toler-
ance (0.83–1.00) statistics resided within acceptable ranges. In addition, we simul-
taneously screened the condition indexes and the variance proportion factors
(Edmunds, Ntoumanis, & Duda, 2006; Pedhazur, 1997). The results suggested that
collinearity was not evident in our data as when the condition index exceeded 10,
no two predictors displayed variance proportion factors greater than .50.
Five separate hierarchical (or sequential) regression analyses were con-
ducted to examine the utility of relative intrinsic goal content in predicting the
criterion variables (viz., physical self-worth, exercise anxiety, exercise behav-
ior, psychological well-being, and psychological need satisfaction). This
is (a) aligned with previous work analyzing the unique contributions
of goal content and behavioral regulations (i.e., Sheldon et al., 2004) and (b)
appropriate to answer the scientic question at hand by providing the unique
variance (or contribution) accounted for by the theoretical set of variables in an
incremental and cumulative fashion (cf. Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003).
In view of the preliminary analysis that showed associations between some
dependent variables and gender and age, these demographic variables were
entered in Step 1 of each regression analysis. Relative intrinsic goals were
entered at Step 2. At Step 3, exercise RAI was entered so as to examine whether
relationships between participants’ relative intrinsic goal scores and the depen-
dent variables remained signicant after controlling for relative autonomous
motivation toward exercise.
The results of the hierarchical regressions are displayed in Table 2. In line
with our hypotheses, after controlling for age and gender, relative intrinsic goal
content positively predicted signicant variance in physical self-worth, exercise
behavior, psychological well-being, and psychological need satisfaction and
was negatively related to exercise anxiety. All of these relationships, except for
the relationship between relative intrinsic goal content and exercise behavior5
remained signicant at the nal step after entering relative autonomous
Mediating Role of Basic Need Satisfaction
Another important aim of this research was to examine whether basic need sat-
isfaction would mediate the observed associations between relative intrinsic
goal content and the dependent variables. Because the bivariate correlations and
hierarchical regression analyses identied relationships between relative intrin-
sic goal content and four of the ve dependent variables, we sought to further
examine the role of psychological need satisfaction in the relations between
relative intrinsic goal content and physical self-worth, exercise anxiety, and psy-
chological well-being, thus excluding exercise behavior. Structural equation
modeling using AMOS Version 7.0 (Arbuckle, 2006) was used to examine these
Table 2 Hierarchical Regression Analyses Predicting Physical Self-worth, Exercise Anxiety, Exercise Behavior,
Psychological Well-Being and Psychological Need Satisfaction From Age, Gender, Relative Intrinsic Goal Content,
and Relative Autonomy
Dependent variables
need satisfaction
Independent variables
Step 1 .03 .03 .01 .02 .01
Age .10 1.96* −.08 −1.57 −.09 −1.92 .15 3.01** −.07 −1.48
Gender −.16 −3.18** .18 3.64** −.10 −2.01* −.04 −0.71 −.08 −1.63
Step 2 .15 .13 .03 .09 .10
Age .06 1.25 −.04 −0.90 −.11 −2.23* .12 2.47* −.11 −2.25*
Gender −.15 −3.20** .17 3.67** −.10 −1.95 −.03 −0.59 −.06 −1.55
Relative intrinsic goals .35 7.67** −.32 −6.86** .14 2.83** .28 5.92** .30 6.42**
Step 3 .30 .24 .16 .22 .27
Age .03 0.60 −.01 −0.33 −.14 −3.04** .09 2.00* −.14 −3.29**
Gender −.12 −2.85** .15 3.35** −.07 −1.52 −.00 −0.05 −.04 −1.01
Relative intrinsic goals .18 3.99** −.17 −3.63** −.02 −0.41 .12 2.58** .12 2.63*
Relative autonomy .43 9.51** −.37 −7.82** .40 8.06** .40 8.27** .46 9.88**
Note. Adj R2 = Adjusted R2. *p < .05, **p < .01.
200 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
The covariance matrix was analyzed using the maximum likelihood estima-
tion method. Inspection of the Mardia’s coefcient (13.01, critical ratio = 7.92)
revealed multivariate nonnormality in the data. Accordingly, analyses were per-
formed using a bootstrapping technique (see Efron & Tibshirani, 1993). In line
with recommendations of Preacher and Hayes (2008) 5000 bootstrap samples
with replacement based on the original sample were requested. Bootstrapping is
benecial under conditions of nonnormality as the bootstrap-generated standard
errors provide a more accurate indication of the parameter estimate stability
(Byrne, 2001; Nevitt & Hancock, 2001).
In line with the two-index presentation strategy advanced by Hu and Bentler
(1998), model t was deemed satisfactory where the comparative t index (CFI)
was >.90 (Bentler, 1995) and excellent where CFI was close to or >.95 (Hu &
Bentler, 1999). For the standardized root mean square of the residual (SRMR),
values of .08 (or lower) are indicative of well-specied models (Bentler, 1995).
Commensurate with recent recommendations (Cheung & Lau, 2008; MacKinnon,
Lockwood, & Williams, 2004; Shrout & Bolger, 2002) the mediating effect of
psychological need satisfaction was explored by examining the 95% upper and
lower limits of bootstrap-generated bias-corrected condence intervals (CI) of the
indirect effects.
To permit an adequate participant-to-estimated parameter ratio, latent vari-
ables representing relative intrinsic goals, physical self-worth, and exercise anxi-
ety were created using a parceling technique. In a discussion of the arguments for
and against the parceling technique, Little, Cunningham, Shahar, and Widaman
(2002) contend that when the primary aim of analysis is to understand the asso-
ciations between latent variables rather than associations between items, parcel-
ing is appropriate as it is a pragmatic solution that (a) reduces the number of
estimated parameters in structural equation models thus aiding identication and
(b) may reduce nonnormality within data. Physical self-worth and exercise anxi-
ety latent variables were indexed by two randomly generated parcels each, formed
by averaging the sum of the appropriate randomly selected items. Two parcels
representing relative intrinsic goals were created by subtracting the average of
half of the extrinsic goal items from the average of half of the intrinsic goal items
(ensuring balanced representation of each goal factor in each parcel). This pro-
cess was repeated with the remaining halves of the extrinsic and intrinsic goal
items to create the second parcel. In line with previous research (Deci et al.,
2001; Standage, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2005), a latent variable representing total
need satisfaction was indexed using autonomy, competence, and relatedness sub-
scale scores as indicators. Subjective vitality and depression-happiness scores
served as two independent observed indicators for the psychological well-being
latent variable. Owing to signicant correlations between the three psychosocial
dependent variables (see Table 1) their disturbance terms were allowed to covary.
These minor modications resulted in an adequate participant to estimated
parameter ratio (15:1; Bentler & Chou, 1987) and the model was found to be ade-
quately identied.
Aligned with the hypothesized sequence of motivational processes advanced
in SDT, a model (Figure 1) was tested in which relative intrinsic goals predicted
psychological need satisfaction, which in turn (positively) predicted physical self-
worth and psychological well-being and (negatively) predicted exercise anxiety.
Exercise Goal Content 201
This model displayed a satisfactory t to the data: 2(37) = 194.26, p < .001; CFI
= .93; SRMR = .07. The standardized parameter estimates showed relative intrin-
sic goal content scores to positively predict psychological need satisfaction, which
was in turn positively predictive of physical self-worth and psychological well-
being and negatively predictive of exercise anxiety. The signicant standardized
indirect effects observed between relative intrinsic goals and the dependent vari-
ables—physical self-worth, = .29, 95% CI = .17 to .42; exercise anxiety, =
−.21, 95% CI = −.31 to −.12; and psychological well-being, = .26, 95% CI = .16
to .38—supported a mediating role of psychological need satisfaction as advanced
in SDT.
To examine whether psychological need satisfaction fully or partially medi-
ated the effects of relative intrinsic goal content on the dependent variables, a
second model which specied direct paths from relative intrinsic exercise goals to
physical self-worth, exercise anxiety, and psychological well-being was tested.
This respecied model (Figure 2) displayed improved t to the data: 2(34) =
168.78, p < .001; CFI = .94; SRMR = .05. Examination of the bootstrap-generated
bias-corrected CIs revealed that in addition to signicant direct effects (which are
aligned with the results of the rst model), signicant standardized indirect effects
emerged for relative intrinsic goal content on physical self-worth ( = .17, 95% CI
= .10 to .26), exercise anxiety ( = −.11, 95% CI = −.18 to −.06), and psychologi-
cal well-being ( = .17, 95% CI = .09 to .28). Such ndings support partial media-
tion. Inspection of the percentage of the total effect that was attributable to the
indirect effect (physical self-worth = 40%, exercise anxiety = 31%, and psychologi-
cal well-being = 56%) suggested that a substantial amount of the variance in the
outcome variables was accounted for by the mediating role of need satisfaction.
Figure 1Preliminary structural model showing relationships between relative intrinsic
exercise goals, psychological need satisfaction, and outcomes as hypothesized within self-
determination theory. Note. All paths are standardized and signicant (i.e., Z > 1.96). Boot-
strap standard errors of the parameter estimates are shown in parentheses. The correlations
between the disturbance terms of the dependent variables were rphysical self-worth–exercise anxiety =
−.42, rexercise anxiety–psychological well-being = −.20, and rphysical self-worth–psychological well-being = .36.
202 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
The present study examined (a) the relationship between relative intrinsic exercise
goal content and a range of exercise-related outcomes and psychological well-
being and (b) the mediating role of exercise-based psychological need satisfaction
in the relationships between relative intrinsic exercise goals and the dependent
variables. In general, the ndings supported our hypotheses and the theoretical
tenets put forth in SDT (cf. Deci & Ryan, 2000).
Relative Intrinsic Exercise Goals
Previous work has documented positive associations between valuing intrinsic
relative to extrinsic goals and adaptive outcomes at a global level (Kasser & Ryan,
1993, 1996) and in specic life domains (Vansteenkiste, Neyrinck et al., 2007).
Extending this work to the exercise context, our results support such ndings, as
placing greater importance on intrinsic goals (i.e., improving one’s health, advanc-
ing one’s exercise skills, or fostering meaningful relationships) relative to extrinsic
goals (i.e., enhancing one’s image and being recognized for one’s exercise behav-
iors) were positively associated with reported exercise engagement, physical self-
worth, and psychological well-being and negatively associated with feelings of
anxiety. Our study is the rst in the exercise context to use a relative-goal approach
as recommended within the SDT literature (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Sheldon et al.,
2004). The ndings support previous research using absolute intrinsic and extrin-
sic exercise goals (Crawford & Eklund, 1994; Maltby & Day, 2001; Ryan et al.,
1997, Study 2) and advance such inquiry by highlighting the adaptive outcomes of
adopting an exercise goal orientation dominated by intrinsic pursuits.
Figure 2 Revised structural model showing direct and indirect relationships between
relative intrinsic exercise goals, psychological need satisfaction, and outcomes. Note. All
paths are standardized and signicant (i.e., Z > 1.96). Bootstrap standard errors of the pa-
rameter estimates are shown in parentheses. The correlations between the disturbance terms
of the dependent variables were rphysical self-worth–exercise anxiety = –.42, rexercise anxiety–psychological well-
being = –.23, and rphysical self-worth–psychological well-being = .40.
Exercise Goal Content 203
Not only does the present data show intrinsic goal content to contribute to
more adaptive affective and behavioral functioning in exercise, but also that most
of these effects remain signicant when controlling for the effects of exercisers’
relative autonomous regulation toward exercise engagement. This is an important
nding, as some researchers (e.g., Carver & Baird, 1998; Srivastava et al., 2001)
have criticized the differentiation between intrinsic and extrinsic goals for being
conceptually analogous to the distinction between autonomous and controlled
behavioral regulation. Both types of conceptualizations are indeed empirically
related to one another, as also shown in the present research, presumably because
they both assess exercisers’ quality of motivation. Nevertheless, commensurate
with previous ndings pertaining to life aspirations (Sheldon et al., 2004), the
relationships identied between relative intrinsic exercise goals and physical self-
worth, well-being, and exercise anxiety remained signicant after accounting for
relative autonomous exercise motivation. Relative autonomous motivation yielded
a signicant effect on all outcomes in the expected directions, thereby supporting
the ndings of previous research (Thøgersen-Ntoumani & Ntoumanis, 2006;
Wilson, Rodgers, Fraser, & Murray, 2004).
No independent effect of relative intrinsic goal content over relative autono-
mous motivation was found for self-reported exercise behavior. Although depart-
ing from our hypothesis, this nding is consistent with previous observations
regarding objective behavioral (rather than self-reported) indices of exercise
(Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens et al., 2004) and aligns with a model of motivation
forwarded by Ingledew and Markland (2008). With the latter in mind, Ingledew
and Markland’s model species goal content as an antecedent to behavioral regu-
lation which in turn positively predicts exercise engagement. While supporting
the empirical evidence pointing toward the benecial cognitive and affective con-
sequences of both relative intrinsic goals and relative autonomous motivation
(Sheldon et al., 2004), our ndings suggest that relative intrinsic exercise goal
content may be predictive of exercise behavior to the degree that it is associated
with autonomous vs. controlled exercise behavioral regulation. Perhaps a feasible
explanation for this null nding may reside with potential variations in the tempo-
ral focus of the “what” and “why” variables couched within SDT. Specically, it
may be that the focus on the content of one’s exercise goals (or the “what” facet)
are too distal (e.g., the promise of social recognition, the ideal appearance, etc) to
predict recently enacted behavior, especially above and beyond the reasons (or
“why”) by which one is motivated to act. As the present data showed intrinsic and
extrinsic goals to be associated with autonomous and controlled motivation
respectively, future longitudinal research would do well to examine whether the
“why” facet of SDT serves to mediate the effects of one’s goal content on recent-
and longer-term patterns of exercise behavior.
Future work might also want to examine the null effect of goal content on
exercise behavior using improved methodological procedures. First, similar to
recent work (e.g., Standage, Sebire, & Loney, 2008) examining the relationships
between motivational regulations and exercise behavior, future research might
want to advance on the current ndings, employing more objective estimates of
exercise engagement (i.e., rather than self-reported) before any rm conclusions
can be drawn regarding the utility of the “what” in predicting behavioral exer-
cise engagement above and beyond the “why”. Second, in doing so, it would be
204 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
particularly useful to examine the emotional experience that goes along with
exercising, because it is possible that, although relatively intrinsic and extrinsic
goal-oriented individuals may not engage in exercise to a quantitatively different
degree, the exercise engagement might be associated with more feelings of anxi-
ety and negative affect rather than vitality and positive affect. In line with such a
suggestion, Vansteenkiste, Simons, Soenens, et al. (2004) found that the exercise
engagement of participants involved in an extrinsic goal framing condition was
less authentic relative to those involved in an intrinsic goal condition. Third,
longitudinal assessment of exercise engagement would be advantageous, as
extrinsic goal valuation might prompt some initial exercise engagement but is
unlikely to foster long-term exercise adherence (Vansteenkiste, Simons, Soenens,
et al., 2004).
Considering the amount of variance in all assessed outcomes that is accounted
for by relative intrinsic goal content and relative autonomous behavioral regula-
tion, it should be noted that in each case relative autonomous behavioral regulation
accounted for a greater proportion of variance than did goal content. These ndings
are in line with those of Sheldon et al. (2004), who found autonomous and controlled
reasons to be more strongly predictive of well-being than were goal contents.
reason why this might be the case is that goals are by denition more cognitive in
nature, while autonomous and controlled regulations rather reect subjective expe-
riences, which are more likely to be associated with affective outcomes, such as the
ones assessed in the present research. For instance, discriminating attitudes toward
obese or less active individuals might be more strongly affected by exercisers’ goal
content than by their exercise regulation (see Duriez, Vansteenkiste, Soenens, &
Dewitte, 2007), an issue that might be investigated in future work.
From an applied perspective, our ndings suggest that exercisers and exercise
practitioners alike may benet by paying attention to the explicit content of their
own, or their clients exercise goals respectively, in addition to the behavioral regula-
tions attributed to the goals. In future work conducted in ecologically valid exercise
settings, researchers may wish to study the degree to which exercise environments,
promotion schemes, and practitioners advocate intrinsic and extrinsic exercise goals
and the associations that such goal promotions may have with people’s exercise
goals, behavioral regulation, and the engagement, enjoyment, and experience of
exercise participation.
Exercise Goals and Psychological Need Satisfaction
The theoretical tenets put forth in SDT hold that relative intrinsic goal pursuit
yields adaptive benets via the facilitation of psychological need satisfaction
(Kasser, Ryan, Couchman, & Sheldon, 2004). This study represents the rst
attempt to test such reasoning in the exercise domain. It was found that relative
intrinsic exercise goals positively predicted psychological need satisfaction. Con-
sistent with the other psychosocial dependent variables in the study, this effect
remained signicant after controlling for participant’s level of self-determination.
In line with past work in other physical activity contexts (McDonough & Crocker,
2007; Reinboth, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2004), psychological need satisfaction was
positively predictive of well-being and physical self-worth while being negatively
predictive of exercise anxiety.
Exercise Goal Content 205
With regards to mediation, the structural equation modeling analysis showed
that consistent with past work and theoretical propositions (Vansteenkiste et al.,
2006) psychological need satisfaction partially mediated the effect of relative
intrinsic goal content on physical self-worth, exercise anxiety, and well-being.
These ndings align with hypotheses that intrinsic goals promote an inward
orientation and facilitate the satisfaction of one’s psychological needs, whereas
extrinsic goals are oriented toward external indicators of worth and thus thwart
psychological need satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Research in the organiza-
tional domain (Vansteenkiste, Neyrinck, et al., 2007) has identied mediation
of the effects of employment goal content on job-related outcomes by psycho-
need satisfaction at work; our results suggest that ascribing more impor-
tance to intrinsic, relative to extrinsic exercise goals has benecial effects on
outcomes both directly, and indirectly via exercise-based psychological need
When attempting to explain why goals with diverse content might differently
satisfy psychological needs, goal content researchers have proposed various
cognitive-attentional processes (labeled micromediational mechanisms) hypoth-
esized to be proximally related to intrinsic and extrinsic goal pursuit (see
Vansteenkiste, Soenens, & Duriez, 2008, for an overview). Specically, three
micromediational mechanisms have been forwarded to help understand the
effects of relative intrinsic goal pursuit on basic need satisfaction; that is, the
proposition that extrinsic relative to intrinsic, goals (a) focuses people’s attention
toward factors external to the exercising task, thus undermining a strong absorp-
tion in the task at hand (Vansteenkiste, Matos, Lens, & Soenens, 2007), (b) induces
stressful interpersonal comparisons within the exercise setting, and (c) promotes
a rigid approach to both the exercise activity (i.e., supercial task engagement)
and other people in the exercise setting (i.e., objectifying others rather than fos-
tering meaningful relationships). The attentional shift, engagement in social
comparison processes, and rigid approach that is more likely to go along with the
pursuit of extrinsic, relative to intrinsic, goals might help to explain why extrin-
sic, relative to intrinsic, goal-oriented individuals fail to get their basic needs for
competence, relatedness, and autonomy met. At present, however, research
exploring these mechanisms is in its early stages. Therefore, future studies explor-
ing experiences of, and approaches to exercise of those oriented toward pursuit of
relatively strong intrinsic or extrinsic exercise goals would help to further develop
previously identied processes and perhaps discover alternative micromedia-
tional mechanisms.
The present results are based on data from a homogeneous sample. As such, future
work would do well to extend the ndings from our sample to more diverse popu-
lations. A second limitation of this work is the cross-sectional study design, mean-
ing directional effects can only be inferred from the hypotheses but were not
explicitly tested with the present dataset. Although the tenets set out in SDT and
the present ndings suggest that relative intrinsic goal pursuit yields psychologi-
cal need satisfaction, the goal content–need satisfaction relationship is forwarded
as bidirectional, such that extrinsic goal pursuit may lead to need satisfaction, or
206 Sebire, Standage, and Vansteenkiste
be compensation for previously thwarted psychological needs (Kasser, 2002;
Williams, Cox, Hedberg, & Deci, 2000). Longitudinal research designed to
explore the temporal interplay between exercise-related psychological need satis-
faction and exercise goal content in naturally occurring exercise contexts may
facilitate understanding of the possible cyclical nature of these variables. Finally,
the current study and past research exploring the effects of both the what and why
on exercise behavior has employed self-reported measures of exercise behavior/
participation (Gillison et al., 2006; Ingledew & Markland, 2008). Future work
embracing technological advances in the objective estimation of exercise behavior
(see Standage et al., 2008) may assist in further understanding the interrelation-
ships among the what and why facets of SDT and exercise behavior.
In support of SDT, the present research shows that the content of exercisers’
goals can be useful in understanding adaptive psychosocial exercise outcomes,
and that such inquiry is informative alongside the study of exercise behavioral
regulations. The results also showed that the positive effects of relative intrinsic
exercise goal content on physical self-worth, exercise anxiety, and psychological
well-being were partially mediated by satisfaction of exercisers’ psychological
needs. Together, these ndings highlight the explicit content of exerciser’s goals
as worthy of consideration when attempting to understand important outcomes in
the exercise domain.
1. As conceptual clarity is central to the present work, the term exercise goal content will be
used to refer to the explicit content of exercise goals.
2. A relative extrinsic goal composite variable will give equivalent results to a relative intrin-
sic goal score but with opposite sign. We decided in this study to focus on the relative intrinsic
goal perspective.
3. This approach represents a deviation from that used by the authors of the PNSE (Wilson
et al., 2006), although past SDT work has employed a composite need satisfaction score (Deci
et al., 2001). As such we performed a higher order CFA to investigate whether the three PNSE
scores could be represented by a composite need satisfaction variable. After constraining the
uniqueness of the competence variable to zero owing to a negative variance estimate, the t of
the model to the data were as follows: 2(133) = 553.42, p < .001; CFI = .94; SRMR = .05, sup-
porting the use of a composite psychological need satisfaction variable.
4. We conducted a CFA using the GCEQ and BREQ items simultaneously to explore the
constructs representing the “what” and “why”. Nine latent variables were specied reecting the
ve GCEQ and four BREQ subscales. The t of the CFA model to the data were good; 2(524)
= 157.40, p < .001; CFI = .92; SRMR = .06. All items loaded signicantly (p < .001) on their
intended factor with a value of >.42 (71% of factor loadings were ≥ .70). Inspection of modica-
tion indices revealed no problematic cross-loading items.
5. Given that exercise behavioral regulation has been found to be predictive of vigorous and
purposeful engagement in exercise rather than lower intensity incidental behaviors (Edmunds
et al., 2006), we repeated our regression analysis using separate mild, moderate, and strenuous
exercise components of the LTEQ. Both relative intrinsic exercise goal content and exercise
Exercise Goal Content 207
RAI were signicant and positive predictors of moderate and strenuous exercise engagement
intensities. In line with our nding pertaining to total exercise behavior, after entering RAI, the
relationship between relative intrinsic goals and both moderate and strenuous exercise behavior
indices were no longer signicant.
6. At the request of an anonymous reviewer, we repeated the hierarchical regression analysis
using individual intrinsic and extrinsic goal content variables at Step 2 and individual autono-
mous and controlled behavioral regulation variables at Step 3. The results largely replicated the
analyses using relative goal content and behavioral regulation variables. Intrinsic goals posi-
tively, and extrinsic goals negatively, predicted physical self-worth at Steps 2 and 3. Intrinsic
goals negatively, and extrinsic goals positively, predicted exercise anxiety at Steps 2 and 3.
Psychological well-being was positively predicted by intrinsic goals and negatively predicted by
extrinsic goals at Steps 2 and 3. Exercise behavior was positively predicted by intrinsic goals at
Step 2 but not at Step 3. Finally, intrinsic goals were a positive predictor of psychological need
satisfaction at Steps 2 and 3 whereas extrinsic goals did not predict this variable. A table of these
results is available from the rst author on request.
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Manuscript received: April 14, 2008 Revision accepted: October 9, 2008
... A cross-sectional analysis of young people with an average age of 24.15 showed that their motivation for physical activity directly affects when, how often, and how they engage in physical activity (38). It is worth noting that research based on self-determination theory has demonstrated that extrinsic motivation for physical activity is associated with body dissatisfaction, internalization of sociocultural standards of body and appearance, and intrinsic motivation for physical activity is associated with higher body satisfaction and lower internalization of sociocultural standards of body and appearance (39)(40)(41). Karazsia and Crowther (42) demonstrated that Thompson's three-factor model is applicable to explain body dissatisfaction and muscle development strategies in young men. Given these, this study not only measured the predictive role of sociocultural factors on obligatory exercise in young men but also assessed the mediating role of motivation for physical activity in the relationship between sociocultural factors and obligatory exercise in young men. ...
... The first two parts of the questionnaire were investigated according to the needs of the study. Based on the research needs and drawing on Lipowski and Zaleski (44), and Sebire et al. (39) studies, this study divided the 12 physical activity goal items into three factors: physical development goals (containing four items; e.g., Physical fitness, being "in shape"), mental development goals (containing four items; e.g., Pleasure from physical activity), and social adjustment goals (containing four items; e.g., Company of other people). Respondents assessed the importance of the listed objectives by marking their answers on a five-point Likert scale, with 1 being not at all important and 5 being very important. ...
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Background Obligatory exercise has been shown to have negative physical and mental effects on exercisers and is more prevalent among young people. However, there is limited research on obligatory exercise among young men. Social comparison theory offers a novel perspective to explore the relationship between sociocultural factors and obligatory exercise among young men, which offers an opportunity to understand potential factors contributing to obligatory exercise among young men across different cultures.Method We recruited a purposive sample of young people aged 18-30 from Poland (n=79) and China (n=194). Participants completed self-report measures including the Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance Questionnaire3, Inventory of Physical Activity Objectives, and Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire. In the data analysis stage, we examined the strength of the relationships between the independent variables and the dependent variable through multiple regression analysis, and tested the role of the mediating variables.ResultsThe main analyses revealed that Internalization-Athlete was a common direct predictor of obligatory exercise for both Polish and Chinese young men; that there were direct sociocultural predictors of obligatory exercise that were only used in relation to Polish or Chinese young men; and that social adaptation goals for motivation for physical activity mediated the development of obligatory exercise for Polish and Chinese young men, and that there were cross-cultural differences.Conclusion Attention should be paid to their attitudes towards the idea of a muscular and athletic body and socially adapted physical activity motivations when understanding young men’s obligatory exercise, while also considering cross-cultural differences.
... Selfdetermination theory is a macro-theory of human motivation concerned with how social contextual factors support or hinder people's thriving by satisfying their basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy [30,31]. Research on physical activity from the self-determination theory perspective has demonstrated that motivation for physical activity is related to body satisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, and social-cultural attitudes about the body [32][33][34]. Thompson and his team [35] proposed a three-factor model of sociocultural, psychological, and eating behavior based on sociocultural theory. The model argues that individuals are pressured by powerful social factors (i.e., media, information) to comply with culturally defined appearance ideals and that the internalization of these ideals will alter an individual's behavior to meet social norms [36]. ...
... Internalization-Athlete was a positive predictor factor for the importance of physical activity objectives of Health, Fit, Shapely Body, Well-Being, Boosting Confidence, and Pleasure from Physical Activity in the Polish and Chinese young women. The self-determination theory indicated that positive health, fitness, enjoyment, mood improvement, etc. can be considered intrinsic motivation for physical activity [32,58,59]. Further research by the scholars showed that intrinsic motivation in young people was associated with more strenuous physical activity, and internalization of athletic body ideas was a positive predictor of them [33,34,60]. ...
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The influence of sociocultural attitudes toward the body on young people’s physical activity has received increasing attention. However, there is a lack of cross-cultural research in this area. The main aim of this research was to identify the similarities and differences in the sociocultural attitudes toward the body of Polish and Chinese young people who grew up in European and Asian cultures and to analyze their effect on the motivation for physical activity. A cross-sectional research study was conducted among 18- to 30-year-old Polish (n = 259) and Chinese (n = 208) young people. The variables were measured using the Sociocultural Attitudes towards Appearance Questionnaire 3 (SATAQ 3) and the Inventory of Physical Activity Objectives (IPAO). Descriptive and comparative statistics, Spearman’s rho, and the stepwise multiple regression analysis were used. The main analysis showed There are both similarities and significant differences in the performance of young Polish and Chinese men and women on the variables studied; Internalization-Athlete, Pressures, and Internalization-General are universal sociocultural predictors of motivation for physical activity among young people in Poland and China; Information is a specific sociocultural predictor of motivation for physical activity in Polish young people. The cultural nuances need to be considered in understanding young people’s Motivation for undertaking physical activity.
... Extrinsic motives were positively related to effort. Although the majority of previous studies associated this motive with more maladaptive outcomes (see Teixeira et al., 2012), also more adaptive patterns have been found, for example, a positive relationship with effort in exercise activity (Sebire et al., 2009). The positive relationship between extrinsic motives and effort may also be explained by how this motive was measured in the present study. ...
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Problem Statement: The health benefits of sport and exercise are well documented. Accordingly, understanding people's motivation for sustained sport and exercise participation is of vital importance. However, over the last decade, this aim is gradually challenged due to the strong rise in exercise with use of digital fitness tracking applications and social fitness platforms (SFP; online fitness community where users can share their recorded activities to a network of other users). Despite this trend, research on motivational implications of exercising with use of a SFP is limited; specifically, two well-established antecedents for explaining sport and exercise motivation in the 'broad domain of sport', motives and achievement goals have been largely overlooked in this line of research. Hence, more understanding of motivational patterns for SFP-based exercise is important as it can contribute to improve the quality of the sport and exercise experience in this context. Approach: This study used a cross-sectional design and focused on users of the social fitness platform Strava. Strava users (481 males and 99 females; M age = 35.20) completed questionnaires measuring: motives and goals for SFP use; motivational responses self-regulation, effort, enjoyment, and relatedness; and SFP/sport user features. Purpose: This study had two purposes: To examine whether (1) motives and goals were related to motivational responses, and (2) these relationships were moderated by user features, when exercising with use of a SFP. Results: Regression analysis revealed that: Competence motives and task involvement were associated positively, and ego involvement negatively with self-regulation; Intrinsic, extrinsic, and competence motives, and task involvement were associated positively and social motives negatively with effort; Intrinsic, extrinsic, and competence motives were positively associated with enjoyment; Extrinsic and social motives were positively associated with relatedness. In addition, 'number of posts' moderated the relationship between competence motives and self-regulation, and 'main sport activity' (i.e., cyclists vs. runners) moderated the relationship between ego involvement and self-regulation, and between ego involvement and effort; 'privacy settings' (i.e., allowing others to follow you) moderated the relationship between extrinsic motives and enjoyment; and, 'social exercise context' (i.e., exercising mostly alone or in a group) moderated the relationships between extrinsic motives and relatedness, and between social motives and relatedness. Conclusions: The current findings highlight the value to examine achievement motivation specific to sport and exercise with use of a SFP and can help to provide practical applications to facilitate adaptive achievement motivation in this exercise context.
... These needs are considered to be complementary and interrelated, and optimal growth and functioning require the satisfaction of most, if not all, of the needs (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Importantly, need satisfaction has been shown to be an important predictor of self-determined motivational regulations (Edmunds et al., 2006;Russell & Bray, 2009), physical self-worth and psychological well-being (Sebire et al., 2009), self-reported exercise behavior (Vlachopoulos et al., 2011), and long-term maintenance of physical practice (Teixeira et al., 2012). These results may explain why the SDT has been extensively applied to the sport and exercise domain (Bhavsar et al., 2020). ...
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Considering the growing prevalence of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior, it is of paramount importance to develop interventions that effectively and durably promote active lifestyles in patients with chronic diseases. While a number of initiatives already exist, current physical activity programs struggle to engage participants and change behavior over the long haul. In addition, these face-to-face programs are associated with a series of logistical and economic issues that limit their impact and widespread dissemination. In this context, the use of gamification and digital technologies appear to be promising tools for promoting behavior change in an ecological context and for providing effective and reliable interventions at a distance. Nevertheless, to date, the scientific literature has not demonstrated the effectiveness of such interventions. Therefore, the main objective of this doctoral work was to know if and under which conditions the use of digital interventions and gamification could be relevant to promote physical activity in patients with chronic diseases. Through 6 studies, the results of this doctoral work highlight the promising perspectives of gamification to improve both short and mid-term daily physical activity levels of various populations, regardless of their age or health status. The findings of this thesis also indicate that physical activity digital programs integrating gamification and telecoaching could be an interesting added value for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. This doctoral work presents new knowledge about the effectiveness of digital interventions and discusses the resulting clinical implications, design insights, and research perspectives to better understand these interventions and optimize their effectiveness.
... Previous researchers have suggested that autonomous motivation consists of both intrinsic regulations and identified regulations, while controlled motivation consists of external regulation and introjected regulation (Hagger et al., 2014;Nurmi et al., 2016;Sebire et al., 2009). We initially used the relative autonomy index. ...
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The purpose of this research was to explore the relations between basic psychological needs satisfaction (autonomy, relatedness, perceived competence), intrinsic motivation, attraction toward exercise, and exercise behavior among college students. In this study, 128 participants (including 91 women and 36 men, mean age: 24 ± 7 years) responded to a questionnaire assessing basic psychological needs satisfaction (autonomy, competence, relatedness), intrinsic motivation, attraction (vs. antipathy) toward exercise, and exercise behavior. Frequency of aerobic exercise, frequency of resistance exercise, and total aerobic exercise behavior are positively associated with autonomy, competence, relatedness, intrinsic motivation, and attraction toward exercise. Three exploratory mediation analyses suggest that attraction (vs. antipathy) toward exercise mediates the relation between intrinsic motivation and exercise behavior. Taken together, these data support and extend previous research on the importance of motivationally relevant variables, including autonomy, competence, relatedness, intrinsic motivation, and affective exercise experiences.
... Following the dichotomic nature of well-being, happiness is influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors too. The "Goal Contents Theory" suggests that striving for extrinsic motives, such as fame, possessions, and money, can lead to low levels of accomplishment and job/life satisfaction [14]. In contrast, happiness may find roots in a sense of accomplishment and intrinsic trust [15]. ...
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Happiness is receiving more and more interest both as a determinant of health and a measure of outcome in biomedical and psychological sciences. The main objective of this study was to assess how the levels of happiness vary in a large sample of Italian adults and to identify the socio-demographic conditions which impair happiness domains the most. The participants of this survey consisted of 1695 Italian adults (85.9% women; 14.1% men) who completed the Measure of Happiness (MH) questionnaire online. In this study, the differences between groups in total and single domain (life perspective, psychophysical status, socio-relational sphere, relational private sphere, and financial status) happiness levels were examined through a propensity score matching analysis with respect to socio-demographic conditions, including gender, age, annual income, relationship status, having children, and education level. The results show that low income has a negative impact on happiness levels, whereas being in a relationship has a positive effect. Having children appears to have a negative impact on male happiness. Males appear to be happier than females, especially with regard to the psychophysics status. This evidence emphasizes the urgency for Italian policymakers to take actions on removing obstacles to people’s happiness, especially with regard to financial distress, parenthood, and gender gaps.
... This may explain why a significant difference in level of LTPA was not observed between other motivational profiles. However, external goal-oriented motives may be associated with negative psychological outcomes such as negative body image perceptions (Panão & Carraça, 2020), and less positive perceptions of self-worth and psychological wellbeing (Sebire et al., 2009), so it may still be most beneficial to encourage men to participate in LTPA for intrinsic reasons. ...
... By providing an opportunity for children to master easier challenges first before advancing to more difficult ones, the app has the potential to provoke a feeling of satisfaction, which can become a source of motivation. In a study examining exercise goal setting and its relationship with cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes, setting intrinsic goals was found to be positively associated with self-reported exercise behavior and psychological well-being and negatively associated with exercise anxiety [44]. A systematic review that aimed to assess the effectiveness of family-based interventions on obesity-related behavior change in children reported intrinsic motivation as a key facilitator in encouraging behavior change in children regardless of the behavior change strategies and techniques used [45]. ...
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Background: The prevalence of obesity among Canadian children is rising, partly because of increasingly obesogenic environments that limit opportunities for physical activity and healthy nutrition. Live 5-2-1-0 is a community-based multisectoral childhood obesity prevention initiative that engages stakeholders to promote and support the message of consuming ≥5 servings of vegetables and fruits, having <2 hours of recreational screen time, participating in ≥1 hour of active play, and consuming 0 sugary drinks every day. A Live 5-2-1-0 Toolkit for health care providers (HCPs) was previously developed and piloted in 2 pediatric clinics at British Columbia Children's Hospital. Objective: This study aimed to co-create, in partnership with children, parents, and HCPs, a Live 5-2-1-0 mobile app that supports healthy behavior change and could be used as part of the Live 5-2-1-0 Toolkit for HCPs. Methods: Three focus groups (FGs) were conducted using human-centered design and participatory approaches. In FG 1, children (separately) and parents and HCPs (together) participated in sessions on app conceptualization and design. Researchers and app developers analyzed and interpreted qualitative data from FG 1 in an ideation session, and key themes were subsequently presented separately to parents, children, and HCPs in FG-2 (co-creation) sessions to identify desired app features. Parents and children tested a prototype in FG 3, provided feedback on usability and content, and completed questionnaires. Thematic analysis and descriptive statistics were used for the qualitative and quantitative data, respectively. Results: In total, 14 children (mean age 10.2, SD 1.3 years; 5/14, 36% male; 5/14, 36% White), 12 parents (9/12, 75% aged 40-49 years; 2/12, 17% male; 7/12, 58% White), and 18 HCPs participated; most parents and children (20/26, 77%) participated in ≥2 FGs. Parents wanted an app that empowered children to adopt healthy behaviors using internal motivation and accountability, whereas children described challenge-oriented goals and family-based activities as motivating. Parents and children identified gamification, goal setting, daily steps, family-based rewards, and daily notifications as desired features; HCPs wanted baseline behavior assessments and to track users' behavior change progress. Following prototype testing, parents and children reported ease in completing tasks, with a median score of 7 (IQR 6-7) on a 7-point Likert scale (1=very difficult; 7=very easy). Children liked most suggested rewards (28/37, 76%) and found 79% (76/96) of suggested daily challenges (healthy behavior activities that users complete to achieve their goal) realistic to achieve. Participant suggestions included strategies to maintain users' interest and content that further motivates healthy behavior change. Conclusions: Co-creating a mobile health app with children, parents, and HCPs was feasible. Stakeholders desired an app that facilitated shared decision-making with children as active agents in behavior change. Future research will involve clinical implementation and assessment of the usability and effectiveness of the Live 5-2-1-0 app.
... Als theoretische Herangehensweise hat sich insbesondere die Selbstbestimmungstheorie (SDT) von Deci und Ryan (1985) Eine der Grundannahmen besteht darin, dass das soziale Umfeld beziehungsweise der soziale Kontext die eigene Wahrnehmung der Zufriedenheit mit der Befriedigung der psychologischen Grundbedürfnisse beeinflusst (Ryan und Deci 2000). Bei hinreichender Befriedigung, zum Beispiel durch ein entsprechendes Verhalten der Übungsleiter*innen, können damit unter anderem folgende positive Adaptionsprozesse einhergehen: ein höherer Grad an selbstbestimmter Motivation (Sylvester et al. 2018), positive Affekte und Freude (Álvarez et al. 2009), gesteigerter körperlicher Selbstwert (Sebire et al. 2009) und höhere Ausdauer und Anstrengungsbereitschaft (Ntoumanis 2005). Weiterhin schlussfolgern Guay et al. (2008) ...
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Zusammenfassung Die Covid-19-Pandemie führte während des zweiten Lockdowns zu einer Reduktion der körperlichen Aktivität der Kinder in Deutschland. Um den erschwerten Möglichkeiten, sich als Kind zu bewegen, etwas entgegenzusetzen, wurde ein digitales Sportangebot initiiert. Dieses nahm insbesondere die Befriedigung der psychologischen Grundbedürfnisse in den Blick und richtete sich an Kinder im Grundschulalter. Weiterhin stand die Vermittlung von Freude an der Bewegung im Fokus. Fünf bis sechs Wochen nach Projektstart wurden acht Interviews mit Kindern ( N = 8) im Alter von 7 bis 10 Jahren ( M = 8,38, SD = 1,19) geführt. Ein Mädchen, das ebenfalls am Projekt teilgenommen hatte, fungierte als Interviewerin. Die Interviews fanden digital via Zoom statt. Mittels einer qualitativen Inhaltsanalyse wurden die Ergebnisse zunächst kategorisiert und anschließend mit der Software MAXQDA Analytics analysiert. Grundsätzlich zeigte sich in den Aussagen der Kinder, dass insbesondere das Autonomie- und Kompetenzerleben befriedigt werden konnte. Hinsichtlich der sozialen Eingebundenheit ergab sich ein diverseres Bild, welches nur bedingt auf eine Förderung durch das digitale Format schließen lässt. Ungeachtet dessen berichteten alle Kinder davon, dass ihnen das digital vermittelte Sporttreiben Freude bereitet hätte. Abschließend werden mögliche Synergieeffekte hinsichtlich der Verknüpfung analoger und digitaler Formate diskutiert.
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The most commonly used method to test an indirect effect is to divide the estimate of the indirect effect by its standard error and compare the resulting z statistic with a critical value from the standard normal distribution. Confidence limits for the indirect effect are also typically based on critical values from the standard normal distribution. This article uses a simulation study to demonstrate that confidence limits are imbalanced because the distribution of the indirect effect is normal only in special cases. Two alternatives for improving the performance of confidence limits for the indirect effect are evaluated: (a) a method based on the distribution of the product of two normal random variables, and (b) resampling methods. In Study 1, confidence limits based on the distribution of the product are more accurate than methods based on an assumed normal distribution but confidence limits are still imbalanced. Study 2 demonstrates that more accurate confidence limits are obtained using resampling methods, with the bias-corrected bootstrap the best method overall.
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The purpose of this study was to provide initial construct validity evidence for scores derived from the Psychological Need Satisfaction in Exercise (PNSE) scale, a multidimensional instrument designed to measure perceived psychological need satisfaction in line with Deci and Ryanʼs (1985, 2002) self-determination theory (SDT). Participants in two studies (n1 = 426; n2 = 581) completed the PNSE along with proxy measures of need satisfaction. The results of an exploratory factor analysis in Study 1 supported the retention of a 3-factor measurement model underpinning PNSE responses. Confi rmatory factor analysis conducted in Study 2 corroborated the tenability of the 3-factor measurement model in males and females and indicated partial support for invariance of PNSE scores across gender. Additionally, the scores on both the PNSE-Competence and PNSE-Relatedness subscales displayed a pattern of convergence with proxy measures. High internal consistency estimates (Cronbach α > 0.90) were observed for all PNSE subscale scores, and participants in both studies reported high levels of need satisfaction in exercise contexts. Overall, the fi ndings suggest that the PNSE displays a number of psychometric characteristics that render the instrument useful for examining psychological need satisfaction in exercise contexts.
The world of exercise and sport is fascinated by motivation and the factors that drive it. It's no wonder researchers both in and out of the sport domain will enthusiastically welcome Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Exercise and Sport. Motivation is central to many social psychological theories that aim to explain behavior, including self-determination theory, one of the most influential theories of human motivation developed in the last three decades. Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Exercise and Sport examines the contribution of this theory to the understanding of motivation and behavior in the domains of exercise and sport. This is the first book to synthesize key research of self-determination theory as it relates to sport and exercise into one convenient volume. Written by a broad range of leading researchers, this reference will be a trend setter in the understanding of internal motivation and how to maximize performance and adherence. Furthermore, this volume will fill in research gaps, improve existing research, and set new directions for research in this vibrant area. Self-determination theory is based on the premise that individuals pursue self-determined goals to satisfy their basic psychological needs to independently solve problems, interact socially, and master tasks. The book begins with an introductory chapter in which the founding fathers of self-determination theory, Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan, provide an overview of the theory and its constituent subtheories and chart its history with respect to exercise and sport, highlighting classic studies and seminal works along the way. This introduction masterfully provides sufficient theoretical grounding and serves as an excellent prologue to subsequent chapters.
Two prospective studies tested the hypothesis that intrinsic motives for physical activities facilitate long-term adherence. In Study 1, participants in two physical activity classes, Tae Kwon Do and Aerobics (N = 40), were compared in their motives for participating using the Motivation for Physical Activity Measure (MPAM; Frederick & Ryan, 1993). Participation motives were also used to predict adherence. Results showed that Tae Kwon Do participants were higher in enjoyment and competence motives and lower in body-related motives than those in aerobics. They also showed better adherence. Further analyses revealed that group differences in adherence were mediated by enjoyment motives. Body-focused motives were unrelated to adherence. In Study 2, subjects joining a nautilus center (N-155) rated their initial motives on a revised Motivation for Physical Activity Measure (MPAM-R). They also rated workout length, challenge, and enjoyment after each exercise session. Results revealed that adherence was associated with motives focused on enjoyment, competence, and social interaction, but not with motives focused on fitness or appearance. Post-workout ratings of enjoyment also predicted adherence. Discussion focuses on the importance of intrinsic motivation for exercise adherence.