Achievement Goal Profiles for Self-Report Physical Activity Participation: Differences in Personality

Article excerpt

Estimated levels of physical inactivity are staggering in the light of the multitude of much publicized physical and mental benefits of regular physical activity (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). To better understand physical inactivity, two approaches have received a great deal of research attention. One approach has attempted to identify constructs associated with motivation (e.g., self-efficacy, goal orientations, self-determination). Though this approach is certainly worthy (Sallis, Prochaska, & Taylor, 2000), examination of these constructs in isolation provide little insight into a broader view of additional constructs that influence exercise motivation. The other approach has related personality with exercise behaviors (e.g., Courneya & Hellsten, 1998). This approach has provided useful information, but to date how personality differs across motivation profiles for strenuous and moderate intensity physical exercise has not been investigated. Hence, the purpose of the present investigation was to integrate both approaches by identifying a range of motivated subgroups for strenuous and moderate intensity exercise and by doing so determine whether personalities of these subgroups differed. By identifying subgroups, appropriate interventions may be formulated based on a personality framework.

Motivation Framework

Social-cognitive models have dominated the exercise psychology literature. The achievement goal approach (Duda, 1989; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1984a, 1984b, 1989; Roberts, 2001) has been tremendously helpful in understanding affect, cognitions, and behaviors as related to achievement motivation in both sport and exercise settings (see Biddle, 1999; Duda & Whitehead, 1998; Whitehead, Andree, & Lee, 2004). The achievement goal approach is concerned with the individuals' subjective interpretation of success as they correspond to the task and ego orientated achievement goals. Some researchers (Elliot, 1997; Elliot & Church, 1997; Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996) have suggested that the approach-avoidance goals distinction should be included in addition to the task-ego goals distinction. Approach goals focus on attaining competence, whereas avoidance goals focus on avoiding incompetence. Elliot and his colleagues view perceived competence as the predictor of achievement goals (see Elliot & Church, 1997), and not as a moderator of goal adoption. Recently, Smith, Duda, Allen, and Hall (2002) revealed that differences between performance-approach and performance-avoidance are minimal. Therefore, we adopted Nicholls' (1989) classic achievement goal theory approach whereby the motivational effects of achievement goals are moderated by levels of perceived competence.

Based on this classic achievement goal approach, a task orientated individual's action is primarily motivated by personal mastery or improvement. Success and failure in achieving personal mastery is subjectively defined by self-referenced perceptions of his or her performance. A task orientation has been consistently related to a variety of motivation indicators such as endorsing effort and persistence as achievement strategies (Lochbaum & Roberts, 1993) and higher levels of intrinsic motivation (Duda, Chi, Newton, Walling, & Catley, 1995; Wang & Biddle, 2001; Wang, Chatzisarantis, Spray, & Biddle, 2002). Task oriented individuals, regardless of perceived ability or competence, are hypothesized to be motivationally adaptive.

An ego orientated person strives to win and demonstrate high normative ability. These individuals judge success and failure on other-referenced standards. Research predictions, typically, propose that ego oriented individuals will be motivationally fragile when they doubt their own competence (Nicholls, 1989, Roberts, 1992). This relationship has generally been verified in physical education contexts (Cury, Biddle, Sarrazin, & Famose, 1997; Wang et al. …