Associations among instructor behaviors, psychological need satisfaction, motivation, and participation in group exercise classes

Julia Lohmann *, Meghan Mcdonough **, Jennifer Breithecker ***, Christina Rogler ***, Hans-Peter Brandl-Bredenbeck *** and Petra Gieß-Stüber *

(*) Insitute of Sport und Sport Science, Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Germany
(**) Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Canada
(***) Institute of Sport Science, University of Augsburg, German

We investigated the associations among perceived instructor behaviors, psy- chological need satisfaction, motivation, and participation frequency in group exer- cise classes. 926 participants (M age = 23.85, SD age = 5.82, N females = 773) from 80 group exercise classes took part in the cross-sectional survey. We used multilevel structural equation modeling to estimate direct and indirect effects. Perceived instructor behavior (individualized and specific feedback, clear and precise instruc- tion, care and individual consideration, praise and encouragement) was associated with need satisfaction and self-determined motivation and to a lesser but significant extent, participation. Small positive indirect effects were found between percep- tions of instructor behaviors and participation frequency, mediated by the three needs and intrinsic motivation ( b = .01-.02). Purposefully applying those specific instructor behaviors in group exercise classes may be an effective route for promot- ing psychological need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, and participation in exer- cisers. Instructors should be aware that participants’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness satisfaction play different roles for behavioral regulations and therefore exercise participation.

Keywords: Autonomy, Competence, Intrinsic Relatedness