Motivation correlates of exercise in college women
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Possible selves represent how people think about their potential and about their future states (Markus & Nurius, 1986). To explore the cognitive processes involved in the decision to exercise, the possible selves (hoped-for and feared) of 93 undergraduate women at the University of Texas at Austin were examined, as were two self-efficacy constructs – scheduling and barrier self-efficacy. Most important hoped-for and feared possible selves related to exercise were categorized and analyzed. Physical and Health categories, followed by Personal and Spiritual, Occupation and Education, and Body Image were most commonly listed for hoped-for selves, while categories of Body Image, Health, and Personal and Spiritual, were most commonly cited for most important feared possible selves. Participants rated the importance, self-efficacy and outcome expectancy of their most important hoped-for and feared selves highly. Participants also felt highly efficacious in overcoming scheduling and barrier obstacles with regard to exercise. Comparisons were made across exercise levels, differentiating between those meeting or not meeting the recommended level of physical activity (Godin, 2011). Multiple logistic regression analyses, controlling for age, were used to test for significant relationships between motivational variables and exercise. Steps taken to achieve the most important possible self (odds ratio [OR] = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.21 – 2.92), steps taken to avoid the most important feared self (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.04 – 2.40), scheduling self-efficacy (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.18 – 2.10), and barrier self-efficacy (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.04 – 2.40) were related to meeting the recommended level of physical activity, compared to not meeting the recommended level. These cross-sectional results suggest that the incorporation of college women’s possible selves and other motivational factors into interventions to increase women’s physical activity may be a promising area for future research.