Self-efficacy theory and the self-regulation of exercise behaviour
Angove Woodgate, Jennifer
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Why are people unable to adhere to an exercise program? Adhering to an exercise program is complex, and exercisers struggle with a variety of challenges that require self-regulation (e. g. , making time, learning skills, changing behaviour). Bandura (1995b) has deemed the assessment of self-regulatory efficacy to manage the regular performance of health behaviours (e. g. , exercise) essential. Despite this recommendation, few components of self-regulation have been examined in the exercise and self-efficacy research to date (McAuley & Mihalko, 1998). Furthermore, major reviews of the exercise-related self-efficacy literature have demonstrated that task self-efficacy has been the predominant operationalization of the self-efficacy construct, and barriers self-efficacy has been the most prevalent operationalization of self-regulatory efficacy (Culos-Reed, Gyurcsik, & Brawley, 2001; McAuley & Mihalko, 1998). However, self-regulation of behaviour involves more than managing barriers and overcoming their limitations (Barone, Maddux, & Snyder, 1997; Brawley, 2005; DuCharme & Brawley, 1995). In order to examine other aspects of self-regulatory efficacy, self-efficacy theory was used as the underpinning for the three studies in this dissertation (Bandura, 1986, 1997). <br /><br /> In Study One an expanded operationalization of exercise-related self-regulatory efficacy was investigated. The construction of various self-regulatory efficacy indices was informed by self-regulation frameworks (Barone et al. , 1997; Baumeister et al. , 1994). These indices as well as barriers efficacy were used to prospectively predict self-reported exercise behaviour. The hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that the expanded self-regulatory efficacy variables (i. e. , scheduling, relapse prevention, goal-setting self-efficacy) explained a significant amount of variance in exercise behaviour. In addition, barriers efficacy also contributed significant, but modest, variance to the model. These results underscore McAuley and Mihalko?s (1998) recommendation that multiple measures of self-efficacy should be used to examine exercise behaviour. The findings also emphasize that a focus solely on barriers as the indicant of self-regulatory efficacy in exercise may be overlooking other aspects of the construct that contribute to prediction. <br /><br /> Study Two extended the descriptive findings of the first study and addressed a recognized research need (Dzewaltowski, 1994; McAuley & Blissmer, 2000; McAuley et al. , 2001). Specifically, this study examined the possibility of individual differences (i. e. , optimism, consideration of future consequences) influencing the relationship between self-regulatory efficacy and exercise behaviour. Results indicated that participants higher in optimism reported significantly greater self-regulatory efficacy and exercise intentions for intensity than did those lower in optimism. In addition, participants higher in consideration of future consequences (CFC) reported greater self-regulatory efficacy and exercise attendance than participants with moderate CFC. Finally, CFC significantly moderated the influence of various indices self-regulatory efficacy on subsequent exercise attendance. However the effect upon the prospective relationship was modest. <br /><br /> Whereas the first two studies examined the predictive relationship between self-regulatory efficacy and exercise behaviour, Study Three focused upon the influence of sources of self-regulatory efficacy in strengthening efficacy beliefs. This investigation concerned the effects of an acute manipulation of self-efficacy information in changing self-regulatory self-efficacy within a special population -- cardiac rehabilitation exercise program participants. According to theory, sources of self-efficacy information are common to task and self-regulatory efficacy (Bandura, 1997). <br /><br /> The study used a 2 (message condition) by 2 (time) design in which cardiac rehabilitation program participants were randomly assigned to conditions. Utilizing a written message employing the self-efficacy sources of verbal persuasion and vicarious experiences, self-regulatory efficacy for the scheduling of <em>independent</em> exercise was targeted within an ?efficacy enhancing? condition. This condition was compared to an ?information control? message of other information relevant to cardiac rehabilitation participants. As hypothesized, the efficacy-enhancing condition exhibited increased scheduling self-efficacy compared to the control condition. As well, exercise-related cognitions (i. e. , intentions for frequency, action plans, behavioural commitment to learning about independent exercise) were superior for the efficacy-enhancing condition participants compared to their control conditioncounterparts. <br /><br /> Taken together, the studies support and extend research on self-regulatory efficacy in the exercise domain. In part, this was accomplished by expanding the operationalization of exercise-related self-regulatory efficacy to represent more components of self-regulation than examined in the exercise literature to date. In addition, these studies extend previous descriptive research by examining the potential moderators of the influence of self-regulatory efficacy on exercise behaviour. Finally, the third study represented one of the first efforts to experimentally manipulate determinants of self-regulatory efficacy for independent exercise in a special population. It supported the hypothesis that informational determinants (i. e. , vicarious experience, verbal persuasion) can be acutely manipulated to increase self-regulatory efficacy among cardiac rehabilitation participants.