Evaluating the relationship between team building factors and social identity in an online exercise intervention


 An emerging area of research has examined social identity in group-based exercise settings. Researchers have found that individuals who held stronger social identity perceptions with their exercise group exhibited greater exercise adherence (Bruner & Spink, 2009; Strachan et al., 2012). To create a strong social identity with an exercise group, exercise leaders can look to the group dynamics literature which has reported team building (TB) strategies to help foster exercise adherence in a diverse range of populations (e.g., youth and adults; Bruner & Spink, 2011; Spink & Carron, 1993). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the factors in an online TB protocol and social identity. Following the completion of an 8-week online TB intervention, first year university students (n=27) completed a survey assessing six TB factors (group norms, individual positions, distinctiveness, individual sacrifices, communication/interaction and goal setting) and social identity (Cameron, 2004). Three dimensions of social identity were assessed including ingroup ties (IGT; perceptions of similarity, bonding, belongingness), cognitive centrality (CC; importance of being a team member), and ingroup affect (IGA; feelings associated with group membership). A regression analysis was performed separately for the three dimensions of social identity (IGT, CC and IGA) with the six TB factors entered as predictors. Regression analysis revealed communication and interaction (B=.61) was positively associated with IGT (R2ad =.47). Further, individual sacrifices (B=.54) and communication and interaction (B=.98) were positively associated with cognitive centrality (R2adj=.70). Finally, group norms (B=.67) and interaction and communication (B=.38) were positively associated with IGA (R2adj=.71). These findings offer practical implications for exercise leaders as they can develop their exercise programs to include an online TB protocol. The inclusion of TB factors could help strengthen participants’ social identity perceptions with an exercise group and improve participants’ exercise adherence.