Motivational profiles for secondary school physical education and its relationship to the adoption of a physically active lifestyle among university students

L. Haerens, David Kirk, Greet Cardon, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Maarten Vansteenkiste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


The promotion of an active lifestyle is one of the central aims of physical education (PE). The present study aimed at investigating the relation between students’ motivation for PE and activity levels using self-determination theory as a guiding framework. A retrospective design was used involving 2617 university students, of which 878 (33.5 percent) were male (age 20.6 1.9). Validated questionnaires were used to measure motivation for PE, self-reported concurrent (activity levels at secondary school) and delayed transfer (activity levels at university). A combination of hierarchical and non-hierarchical cluster analyses was used to generate motivational profiles for PE. Differences in activity levels were analysed using MANCOVAS. The results revealed that students with more optimal (i.e. more autonomous) motivational profiles reported more transfer and reported being more active at secondary school and in early adulthood. Implementing strategies that enhance self-determined motivation might result in more students’ adopting an active lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-139
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • physical education and sport
  • self-determination theory
  • transfer
  • motivation

Cite this