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Title: Habit, cognition and the environment : the influence of psychosocial and perceived environmental factors on children's physical activity
Author: Thomas, Erica
Awarding Body: University of Worcester
Current Institution: University of Worcester
Date of Award: 2011
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Physical activity determinant studies now often include both environmental and socio-cognitive factors but few of them acknowledge and explore the mechanisms underlying relevant environmental influences. This thesis addressed the gap in current knowledge by exploring pathways linking the environment and physical activity in children beyond the limits of models such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), by examining the more complex automatic and habitual mechanisms underlying this behaviour. First, a TPB questionnaire was developed to assess physical activity cognitions in children (study 1). This was followed by a psychometric evaluation of the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C) (Crocker, Bailey, Faulkner, Kowlaski & McGrath, 1997) (study 2). Building on the first two studies, study 3 utilized these measures to delineate the mechanisms linking the environment and physical activity in children. Results showed that nearly 43% of the association between convenient facilities and physical activity intentions could be explained by subjective norms (16.7%) and habit strength (26.2%), while 15% of the association between convenient facilities and physical activity could be explained by habit strength alone. Study 3 provided the impetus for the development, implementation and evaluation of a theory based cluster randomised control trail to increase physical activity in children (study 4). Results revealed a significant increase in PAQ-C scores for those in the intervention group, however perceived access to convenient facilities and habit strength did not significantly increase as a result of the intervention and did not mediate the intervention effect. There was however some evidence that the intervention increased intention – behaviour consistency. The results demonstrate the importance of concepts such as environmental accessibility and habit strength in the prediction of children's physical activity, however further research is required to elucidate the role of these factors in producing intervention effects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology