An investigation of possible selves across stages of exercise involvement with middle-aged women Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8623j092s

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  • In order to develop effective interventions designed to encourage more middle-aged individuals to engage in regular exercise, there is a need to further understand the mechanisms involved in the decision to exercise. One appropriate conceptual framework involves future-oriented self-conceptions, or possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Possible selves, both hoped-for and feared, have been shown to vary over the lifespan in content and number (Cross & Markus, 1991), and to be predictive of future health behaviors (Hooker & Kaus, 1992,1994). The role of possible selves in the exercise context can be explored using the Stage of Change Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983), which identifies participation as a process consisting of five identifiable stages. The purpose of this study was to examine the number and content of possible selves generated by individuals across stages of exercise behavior, in order to determine whether possible selves can differentiate those stages and be predictive of exercise-related behavior. Participants were 204 middle-aged women employed at a university in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Results indicated that differences in the number and content of open-ended possible selves across stage of exercise were relatively few, although differences that did exist held potential for future interventions. Of particular interest was the significant finding of possible selves related to body image, which differed by stage for both hoped-for and feared selves. Responses to focused possible selves directly related to exercise behavior showed a number of differences between stage of exercise, providing support for previous literature as well as for the methodology employed in the present study. Individuals whose self-efficacy and outcome expectancy associated with a particular possible self related to exercise was high, were most likely to engage in exercise behavior. Finally, when the strongest predictor of exercise behavior was combined with exercise self-efficacy, the variance accounted for by the possible self was negligible. Findings support the conclusion that possible selves are worthy of future research in the exercise domain, including the role of possible selves as an antecedent to exercise self-efficacy. Results are discussed in terms of past research, practical applications, and future research directions.
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