Self-determination in recreational exercise: Associations with lapse and post-lapse emotions

Image credit: Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials


Objective - Self-determination theory describes how an individual’s underlying motives determine self-regulatory outcomes. Building on this, we investigated whether different types of motivation predict lapse in exercise behavior, and particularly the emotional responses to lapse in the form of guilt, anxiety, and relief. Method - Study 1 entailed a self-report, cross-sectional investigation using structural equation modeling to test study hypotheses (N = 343, M age 24.30 years, 215 female). Study 2 employed a 21-day daily diary using multi-level modeling to test study hypotheses (N = 89, M age 25.90 years, 55 female). Motivation was self-reported at the beginning of the study with all other variables self-reported daily. Results - Autonomous motivation was shown to negatively associate with lapse. When lapse occurred, autonomous motivation was inconsistently associated with the tendency for individuals to feel decreased relief and guilt. In contrast, introjected regulation displayed inconsistent associations with lapse, but increased the likelihood that individuals would experience guilt and anxiety following lapse. External regulation did not reliably predict lapse and emotions across studies. Conclusions - Our findings suggest autonomous motivation may protect against lapses in goal-directed behavior. Controlling forms of motivation, however, may promote less-optimal emotional processes implicated in poor self-regulation.

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 45
Stephen Murphy
Stephen Murphy
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Psychology

My research interests include self-regulation, motivation, meta-science, data science, and digital wellbeing.