Date of Award

12-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gilbert, David

Abstract

Though the benefits of physical activity are well-studied and accepted, researchers have struggled to identify models of health behavior that accurately predict exercise. This dissertation utilized two components of Bandura's Social-Cognitive Model (self-efficacy and outcome expectancies) and added the construct of fear of failure in order to evaluate what factors influence an individual's decision to exercise or avoid physical activity. Self-report data assessing fear or failure, self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, and physical activity were collected from 248 university students and were analyzed using structural equation modeling techniques in order to evaluate the proposed structural model, which hypothesized that fear of failure would negatively relate to the two Social-Cognitive variables, which were expected to positively predict physical activity engagement. Results revealed that although fear of failure did not add significantly to the Social-Cognitive model, a large portion of the variance in physical activity (i.e., 49%) could be accounted for by the model. Additionally, results indicated that outcome expectancies were a much stronger predictor of physical activity than self-efficacy beliefs. This finding is discussed in relation to how individual differences and genetics may influence how rewarding or aversive individuals find exercising. Implications for intervention and directions for future study, including alternate ways of adding affect to the model are discussed.

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