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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of relatedness in physical activity motivation, behaviour, and affective experiences : a self-determination theory perspective McDonough, Meghan Heather


Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991) suggests that meeting needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness will affect the type of motivation (from amotivation to intrinsic motivation) experienced, along with cognitive, affective, and behavioural outcomes. Although relatedness should play an important role in motivation, limited research has examined the role of social constructs in this process. This project investigated antecedents and outcomes of relatedness and explored whether learning structure interventions facilitate relatedness and self-determination among adult dragon boaters. These aims were addressed in two studies. The first study involved a passive observation of 558 dragon boaters aged 19-83. Friendship quality, peer acceptance, social support, and age predicted relatedness. Autonomy, competence, relatedness, age, and gender significantly predicted self-determined motivation. Age and gender did not moderate these relationships. Self-determined motivation partially mediated the relationship between psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and positive and negative affect, while competence alone predicted physical self-worth, and physical activity. The second study was an 8-week intervention involving 210 paddlers from 12 dragon boat teams. Teams were randomly assigned to a cooperative or an individualistic learning intervention, and coaches were trained to conduct the intervention with their teams. Paddlers completed questionnaires at the beginning and end of the intervention period. Peer acceptance and psychological need fulfillment increased over the course of the 8 weeks similarly in both conditions. The only intervention effect was that autonomy was facilitated by the individualistic intervention. While expectations that the cooperative intervention would enhance social relationships and relatedness were not supported, mixed effects modeling analyses demonstrated a substantial within-team clustering effect, and found that changes in relatedness perceptions predicted changes in self-determined motivation. A replication of the mediator model test in Study 1 confirmed the role of self-determination as a partial mediator. Together these studies demonstrate the importance of relatedness in adult activity motivation, link social relationship constructs to relatedness and self-determination theory, and provide evidence that within-team clustering on social and motivational variables should be considered in research with in tact teams.

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