A theory-based approach to identify the critical beliefs underlying university recreational sports participation

  • T. St Quinton
  • J. Brunton


Background: Recently funded atheoretical interventions attempting to increase participation in university recreational sport have demonstrated limited success. The present study is the second phase of formative research using specifications outlined within the Theory of Planned Behaviour aimed at identifying the key beliefs associated with participation. Such beliefs can facilitate the development of interventions promoting the behaviour. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used with a four-week follow-up. A purposive sample of 206 participants (88 male, mean 19.04, ± 2.3) responded to a TPB informed questionnaire measuring baseline cognitions. Behaviour at follow up was measured using self-report questionnaires. Analysis: Correlations were found between TPB variables and beliefs. Beliefs significantly correlating with intention and behaviour were then entered into a multiple regression to identify those that independently predicted the outcome variables. Findings: The model accounted for 56% of the variance in intention, with past behaviour adding an additional 14%. Intention and Perceived Behavioural Control (PBC) explained 27% of the variance in behaviour. Attitude, subjective norm and PBC significantly predicted intention. The key beliefs related to intention were; ‘‘be enjoyable’’ (β = .58), ‘‘be time consuming’’ (β = .23), ‘‘friends’’ (injunctive; β = .21), ‘‘family’’ (injunctive; β = .33), and ‘‘friends’’ (descriptive; β = .17). Two beliefs predicted behaviour; ‘‘be enjoyable’’ (β = .28) and ‘‘be time consuming’’ (β =. 27). Discussion: Using a well-established theory of behaviour change, the study identified the key beliefs underpinning participation in university recreational sport. Successfully targeting these beliefs would hopefully lead to an increase in participation rates.
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