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The Stability of Exercise-Related Identity Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2022


Research studies show that leading a healthy lifestyle and consuming healthy diets contribute to positive health outcomes. On the other hand, the same studies note that a large percentage of the general population has failed in terms of meeting the desirable health outcomes through physical activity and dietary management (DiClemente & Peterson, 1994, p. 4). Furthermore, those individuals who initiate behavioral changes through incorporating physical activity and dietary management into their day-to-day activities do also fail in terms of adhering to the recommended activities. As a result, different researchers argue that certain aspects of the ‘self’ such as exercise identity and self-efficacy beliefs play a pivotal role in determining the exercise outcomes (Bandura, 2010; Leary & Price-Tangney, 2005). Therefore, the purpose of this research paper is to explore the relationship between one’s exercise identity and the self-efficacy beliefs relative to the findings of a research study involving 170 participants from a kinesiology class. In this survey, the participants were allowed to assess their exercise identity and self-efficacy beliefs through the Self-Efficacy Scale (MSES) and the Exercise Identity Scale (EIS). As a result, this research paper analyzes the link between the two major variables of the ‘Self’ (Identity and Self-efficacy) relative to the findings of the study. State your hypotheses here…………note that this should be in line with what you will wish to discuss later under DISCUSSIONS

Literature Review

The uniqueness of different individuals in carrying out similar tasks cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, most studies recognize the importance of the ‘self’ as a possible line of investigation relative to health-related exercise outcomes. In fact, many researchers posit that self evaluations relative to exercising and other health-related initiatives are directly related to the final outcomes (Sparks & Guthrie, 2006, p. 1393; Conner & Armitage, 2006). Here, the researchers not that various aspects of the ‘self’ inform behavioral changes and choices such as task choices, exercise scheduling, and coping during physical activity. Conversely, behavioral changes and choices have been shown to influence the way in which an individual experiences the ‘self’ (Bandura, 2010; Baumeister, 1999, p. 70). Before, investigating the role of the ‘self’ and its variables in influencing exercise outcomes, there is the need to describe the ‘self’ at length.

According to Leary and Price-Tangney (2005, p.218), the ‘self’ is a psychological instrument that enables one to think positively and deliberately about one’s abilities, experience, and perceptions by asking the questions, ‘Who Am I?’ and ‘What Am I Capable of?’. As a result, the ‘self’ forms an integral part of the process through which individuals get to think, experience, and observe themselves, and therefore, self-regulate different aspects of their lives. Despite the ‘self’ being unique in nature, studies show that the relationship between the ‘self’ and one’s immediate environment is two-way in that they both affect each other constructively (Baumeister, 1999). Furthermore, Leary and Price-Tangney (2005, p. 218) identify two major ‘self’-related factors, which play a major role in health-related behavioral changes and exercising. Here, identity and self-efficacy are the major ‘self’-related factors that influence behavioral changes. In addition, the role played by the two factors in behavioral change is informed by two major theories, the identity and the social cognitive theories.

Identity and Self-efficacy

Identity is a sub-component of the ‘self’ in which an individual examines one’s role in a particular context relative to one’s expectations and those of other individuals in the immediate environment (Baumeister, 1999). Here, an individual asks the question, ‘Who Am I?’ and the answers to this question coupled with the expectations of other individuals are thought to influence one’s behavior in different aspects. Furthermore, different individuals do differ in terms of assimilating and accommodating various identities from the environment into their own sense of the ‘self’ (Leary & Price-Tangney, 2005, p. 222). Here, the identity theory states that different identities are associated with different expectations, and as a result, different identities and their respective expectations serve as the reference standards that guide behavioral changes in different individuals. This phenomenon is known as identity salience, which entails the significance of an individual identity compared to other identities. As a result, when the salience of a particular identity is higher than that of other identities, the probability that a certain behavioral change will be in line with the subject identity is equally high (Bandura, 2010).

On the other hand, self-efficacy is another sub-component of the ‘self’, which enables individuals to gauge their abilities relative to the expectations and choices made in a given situation to achieve the desired goals. Here, an individual asks the question, ‘What Am I Capable Of?’, and in so doing, one constructs certain self-efficacy beliefs, which enable this individual to organize and implement various courses of action relative to certain contextual goals and expectations (Leary & Price-Tangney, 2005, p. 223). As a result, different self-efficacy beliefs determine the role played by an individual in making different choices, attempting to attain certain goals, persisting to reach certain goals, and considering alternative choices in case of setbacks. Additionally, the social cognitive theory assumes that people play a paramount role in manipulating their immediate environment to suit different expectations (Bandura, 2002). Here, the theory shows that different people have the ability to use their experience in constructing individualized models of action that govern behavioral changes and choices. Moreover, the theory notes that people can self-regulate their behavior through self-reflecting on their abilities, expectations, and experiences. Consequently, the theory posits that there is a reciprocal interaction between individual factors, behavioral orientations, and different environmental factors (Bandura, 2002).

Overall, despite that the identity and social cognitive theories approach behavioral changes from different dimensions; the two theories tend to agree on several aspects of behavior. Here, the theories portray behavioral change as a goal-oriented activity in which both personal and environmental factors play a reciprocal role in determining different behavioral orientations. As a result, these theories form a strong framework upon which the relationship between exercise identity and self-efficacy beliefs can be investigated.

Note: Some of the information given here is also important for your DISCUSSIONS, which appears later in the research paper. Therefore, feel free to pick the information you would need for the introductory part and use the rest in your DISCUSSIONS.

Reference list

Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 2 (1), 21-41.

Bandura, A. (2010). Self-efficacy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Baumeister, R.F. (1999). The self in social psychology. Hove: Psychology Press.

Conner, M. & Armitage, C.J. (2006). Extending the theory of planned behavior: A review and avenues for further research. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28 (15), 1429-1464.

DiClemente, R.J & Peterson, J.L. (1994). Preventing Aids: Theories and methods of behavioral interventions. New York: Plenum.

Leary, M.R. & Price-Tangney, J. (2005). Handbook of self and identity. London: Guilford Press.

Sparks, P. & Guthrie, C.A. (2006). Self-identity and the theory of planned behavior: A useful addition or an unhelpful artifice? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28 (15), 1393-1410.

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