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Persistence to Overcome Barriers to Walking for Active Transportation: An Experimental Study of University Students who Differ in Self-regulatory Efficacy



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Walking for active transportation (AT) has been associated with individuals meeting the recommended physical activity levels. Global and local (i.e., Saskatoon) reported walking rates are low. Barriers perceived as a challenge (i.e., frequent and limiting) may influence walking. Individual differences, such as self-regulatory efficacy (SRE), may help people persist in overcoming challenging barriers, with those being more efficacious having greater persistence than their lower efficacy counterparts. The overall purpose of the present self-efficacy theory-based study was to examine whether individuals with higher and lower SRE differed in their persistence to overcome barriers to walking to/from a university campus under two experimental conditions (i.e., higher versus lower challenge). The experimental study design was a two (between: higher versus lower SRE to overcome barriers) by two (within: higher versus lower challenge vignette) mixed factorial, with three measures of persistence as the dependent variables (i.e., number of written solutions to overcoming barriers, time taken to record the solutions, and anticipatory perseverance to overcome barriers to walking in the near future). Based on self-efficacy theory and past research, individuals who had higher SRE were expected to have significantly higher persistence than their lower SRE counterparts after reading the higher challenge vignette. Participants were young adults who walked to/from a university campus. Higher and lower SRE groups were identified via a median split (nhigher = 22; nlower = 23). Each participant read a higher and lower challenge vignette (i.e., order counterbalanced across participants) in a lab-based setting, followed by completion of persistence measures after each vignette reading. Findings from a series of two by two ANOVAS provided partial support of the study hypothesis. A significant interaction between SRE groups and challenge vignettes was found with the persistence measure of time spent reporting coping solutions, F(1,43) = 4.64, p = .037. As expected, results from simple main effects showed the higher SRE group significantly differed from the lower SRE group under the higher challenge vignette condition, F (1,43) = 5.27, p = .027, by spending significantly more time reporting solutions. No other significant interactions were found between SRE groups x vignettes with the remaining measures of persistence: (1) number of reported solutions F (1,43) = 3.15, p = .083, and (2) anticipatory perseverance F (1,43) = 0.05, p = .82. The present study contributed new information on challenging barriers to walking for AT. Findings from the experiment partially supported contentions from self-efficacy theory about the importance of SRE beliefs to persistence when individuals are challenged. Future research should continue to examine the potential role that SRE beliefs play in whether individuals walk for AT.



active transportation, barriers, walking, self-regulatory efficacy, self-efficacy, persistence



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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