Physical activity (PA) has been shown to reduce the risk of serious physical ailments and produce beneficial psychological mechanisms. Despite these health benefits, few individuals engage in PA at a level compatible with health guidelines. The purpose of this study was to examine how the self-determination theory (SDT), specifically basic psychological needs theory (BPNT) and organismic integration theory (OIT), and the transtheoretical model (TTM) of behavioral change collectively explain behavioral outcomes related to PA in the undergraduate population. The integration of SDT and the TTM were accomplished by grouping each stage of the TTM model in relation to level of all three basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness) and self-determination to exercise. There were 339 participants who completed an online survey that contained assessments of demographics, basic psychological need satisfaction, motivational regulation, stage of change, and relapse for PA. It was predicted that individuals who were more self-determined and had their basic psychological needs (BPNs) fulfilled, specifically competence, would be in the upper stages of change (SOC). Furthermore, mediation models were tested to determine the relationship between self-determination to exercise and subsequent exercise behavior: frequency, duration, and intensity. The results suggest that individuals will increase in their self-determination to exercise and their fulfillment of BPNs as they progress upwards in the SOC. Specially, the results indicate that relatedness is important for the initiation of PA, while competence is critical for the adherence of PA. Thus, healthcare professionals should promote the internalization of PA by supporting individual’s fulfillment of BPNs.


Thompson, Claudia




Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms


Self-Determination Theory, Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, and Physical Activity

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Masha M. Berman