Norms in Sport and Exercise
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Studies examining descriptive norms in the activity area have demonstrated that an individual’s perceptions of others’ behaviour were related to (Priebe & Spink, 2011; Spink, Crozier, & Robinson, 2013), and influenced (Priebe & Spink, 2012, 2014) individual behaviour. Guided by focus theory of normative conduct (Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990), the purposes of the studies examined in this thesis were three-fold: (1) to assess whether norms are related to an intention that is not a direct reflection of the norm, (2) to add to the examination of the relationship between norms and self-reported activity to include both descriptive (i.e., perceptions about others’ behaviour) and injunctive (i.e., perceptions about others’ approval) norms, and (3) to use a construct from another theory (i.e., positive outcome expectations from social cognitive theory, Bandura, 1986) to strengthen the predictions from focus theory of normative conduct to individual’s physical activity. In Study 1, which was concurrent in design, the relationship between descriptive norms reflecting prosocial behaviour and an individual’s intention to return to the group in youth sport camp participants was examined. A positive relationship emerged wherein individuals were more likely to intend to return to their group in the future when they also perceived that more group members provided encouragement, congratulations, positive and constructive feedback (i.e., prosocial) to other group members. Study 2 was an experimental field study, where the influence of normative (descriptive, injunctive) and non-normative (personal, team) motivational messages on self-reported frequency of maximal effort in adult volleyball athletes was examined. Individuals exposed to the normative messages about others exerting effort reported significantly higher frequencies of maximal effort compared to those exposed to messages highlighting personal reasons for exerting effort (i.e., to improve athletic ability). However, no differences emerged between normative messages about the effort levels of others and those who received messages about working hard for the team. In Study 3, an online experimental study, exposure to messages differing in levels of descriptive norms and positive outcome expectations was examined in relation to the exercise patterns of university students during a final exam period. All students reported decreases in their activity from their typical levels during the exam period. However, between-group differences emerged between the two groups exposed to the message that many others were active during exams (high descriptive norm). When that message was coupled with a high positive outcome expectation, individuals reported significantly greater levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity than when the normative message was accompanied with a low positive outcome expectation. Results from these three studies suggested the following: (1) a descriptive norm surrounding one class of behaviours related to an individual’s perceptions regarding an intention to return in the future to that setting, (2) normative messages influenced an individual’s perceptions of how often he/she exerted maximum effort more than non-normative personal messages in sport, and (3) a message highlighting that many others were active during an exam period (high descriptive norm) influenced self-reported individual physical activity differently depending on the level (high, low) of positive outcome expectation provided.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorSpink, Kevin S.
CommitteeBrawley, Lawrence R.; Gyurcsik, Nancy C.; Hellsten, Laurie M.
Copyright DateNovember 2014