On the dynamic relationships between contextual (or general) and situational (or state) motivation toward exercise and physical activity: A longitudinal test of the top-down and bottom-up hypothesis

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The present research sought to test key postulates of the Hierarchical Model of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation (HMIEM, Vallerand, 1997) in two different physical activity settings. Specifically, the top‐down and the recursive (bottom‐up) effects were tested with adult participants (n = 89) in a fitness center as well as with high school students (n = 168) in physical activity classes. Study 1 further assessed the positive consequences resulting from a self‐determined situational motivation while Study 2 tested the impact of the perceived motivational climate on students’ situational motivation. Two short‐term longitudinal designs (with three measurement times in Study 1 and five measurement times in Study 2) were used. These models enabled the investigation of the interplay between the contextual and the situational levels of the motivational hierarchy over time. Overall, the results of Study 1 and Study 2 supported the postulates of the HMIEM (Vallerand, 1997). Furthermore, the results of Study 1 showed that self‐determined situational motivation predicted positive outcome variables (i.e., positive emotions and concentration) while the results of Study 2 showed the significant relationship between a perceived mastery climate and self‐determined situational motivation. The present findings allow us to hypothesize the existence of a dynamic process through which changes in contextual self‐determined motivation may take place over time.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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