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Hutmacher, Djenna UL

Doctoral thesis (2021)

Worldwide, physical activity levels are decreasing over time and with age (Guthold et al., 2020), which is directly related to numerous physiological and psychological health issues (Poitras et al. 2016 ... [more ▼]

Worldwide, physical activity levels are decreasing over time and with age (Guthold et al., 2020), which is directly related to numerous physiological and psychological health issues (Poitras et al. 2016). In this regard, previous research has found that, predominantly, not the daily amount of sitting, but insufficient physical activity rates are related to higher mortality rates (Eklund et al., 2016; Van der Ploeg & Hillsdon, 2017). The purpose of the present thesis is therefore to investigate underlying factors, which are directly and indirectly related to and may foster physical activity behavior. For reasons of aiming at supporting most of children and adolescents, physical education provides a promising context to intervene. In this sense, one multi-theoretical framework, the trans-contextual model (Hagger et al., 2003), has been presented in order to investigate the transfer of motivation between the school and out-of-school context. Within this particular model, three propositions are given. First, (1) Hagger and Chatzisarantis (2016) claim that the students’ perceived support of autonomy by the physical education teacher is related to increased values of students’ autonomous motivation in physical education, which, in turn, (2) is related to autonomous motivation toward physical activity beyond the school context in leisure-time. Finally, (3) the authors suggest that autonomous motivation is related to the antecedents of the intention of getting physically active, namely attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. In order to test and extend these assumptions, the perceived support of the three basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2000) by the physical education teacher, the different motivational regulation types in the physical education and leisure-time context, and the concepts of the theory of planned behavior (i.e., subjective norm, attitude, perceived behavioral control, intention, and physical activity behavior; Ajzen, 1991) were assessed. The analyses performed and results obtained are presented in three individual manuscripts, each addressing a unique research question. Within the first manuscript, the aim is to analyze the psychometric properties of our translated versions of the motivational regulation scales, the Revised Perceived Locus of Causality Scale (PLOC-R; Vlachopoulos et al., 2011) and the Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-II; Markland & Tobin, 2004). In a second manuscript, the three different propositions of the trans-contextual model are tested in a longitudinal design via generalized linear mixed models, cross-lagged panels, and longitudinal mediation analyses. In a final step (manuscript three), a new yet already scientifically established concept, namely mindfulness, which has been found to be beneficial in classrooms (Zenner et al., 2014), is integrated into the trans-contextual model. As a purpose of the trans-contextual model is to foster autonomous motivation in physical education in order to increase overall physical activity, and as a recent meta-analysis has underlined the positive medium-sized impact of state mindfulness on autonomous motivation (Donald et al., 2020), a further aim of the present thesis was to implement mindfulness into the trans-contextual model. It is discussed that mindfulness may play a crucial role in the development of autonomous motivation, which may help to explain the link between mindfulness and the reduction of stress, negative affect, as well as the simultaneous promotion of well-being (Schneider et al., 2018), and the execution of a behavior. As an overarching aim of the present thesis is to discover important concepts, which are in the long term increasing overall physical activity rates of children and adolescents, the trans-contextual model, which unifies important concepts of the self-determination theory (SDT, Deci & Ryan, 1985) and the theory of planned behavior, is analyzed and extended by the concept of mindfulness in the third manuscript. More specifically, the support of autonomy, relatedness, competence, as well as the possibly beneficial impact of mindfulness, when being included into the trans-contextual model, was analyzed via path model analyses. Overall, promising results could be found for the psychometric properties of the motivational regulation questionnaires. Furthermore, partial scalar measurement invariance between the German and French version can be seen as confirmed. Thus, both translated questionnaire versions provide useful tools for further inter-cultural research in the exercise domain. Furthermore, the proposed directions of the trans-contextual model could be confirmed within a longitudinal format. We found that all three basic needs were distinctly important to be supported in physical education, as they were all found to be related to autonomous motivation. Autonomous motivation, in turn, was found to be bi-directionally related between both contexts, the school and out-of-school context, meaning that the promotion of autonomous motivation in either context might be beneficial. Finally, identified regulation was found to be directly related toward intention and intrinsic motivation to physical activity over time. Autonomous motivation was furthermore found to be related to subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, and attitude. With regard to the third manuscript, it was found that the path models including mindfulness into the trans-contextual model provided better model fit indices, compared to models without mindfulness. In addition, mindfulness was found to be positively predicted by the support of autonomy in class, while mindfulness statistically significantly predicted autonomous motivation in both contexts, namely for physical education and leisure-time physical activity. Furthermore, mindfulness was positively related to attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. Overall, the presented results reveal that the trans-contextual model provides a strong conceptual framework, which helps to better understand the transfer of autonomous motivation beyond the school-context. Furthermore, it is discussed that, in order to promote autonomous motivation in students, further educational intervention programs should ideally rely on the four concepts of autonomy, relatedness, competence, and mindfulness support, which may, in turn, help to alleviate and redeem the diminishing physical activity rates across the globe. [less ▲]

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