Psychological need satisfaction, self-schemas, and possible selves: A test of Self-Determination Theory


Using Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2002) as a theoretical framework, this investigation examined the relationship between exercise self-schema (ESS) and the utility of a physical activity possible selves intervention on outcomes such as psychological need satisfaction, well-being, and physical activity behaviour. Participants were individuals 25-65 years enrolled in a “self and well-being” intervention. Phase 1 of this research used participants who completed baseline assessments of the intervention investigation (N = 153). Results of phase 1 revealed that the descriptive component of ESS was related to well-being and physical activity behaviour through the indirect effects of psychological need satisfaction. Overall, the model accounted for between 21 and 49% of the variance in outcome variables. Phase 2 of this research used a 3 (group) by 3 (time) experimental design to test the effects of a physical activity possible self writing intervention with psychological need satisfaction primers over 9 weeks. Results revealed that 1 week after the 4 week writing intervention, participants assigned to the possible selves groups had greater positive affect compared to the control group [F(1,51) = 5.30, p = .03, η2 = 0.09]. No other statistically significant differences between groups over time were found for outcomes such as ESS, psychological need satisfaction, well-being, and physical activity behaviour. Overall, the results of this investigation highlight the role of psychological need satisfaction in the relationship between ESS and well-being and provided mixed evidence for the results of the physical activity possible selves intervention. Results supported the utility of examining ESS under the SDT framework.

Acknowledgments: This research was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Canadian Graduate Scholarship