The Interaction of Individual Differences and Fitspiration Media on Fitness Behavior

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This study explores how motivation types, implicit theories and attitudes toward the body and exercise, and an external ‘fitspiration’ stimuli (Instagram feed) influences people’s intention to exercise in the future. Participants from Alfred University, Facebook, Instagram and the Psi Chi website accessed this study on a secured website; Participants answered questions from scale measures, including; the Extrinsic Motivation Items scale, Intrinsic Motivation Items scale, the Implicit Theories of the Body Scale, and Social Desirability Scale, and scrolled through a 100 picture Instagram newsfeed and then answered follow up questions. Extrinsic motivation and social desirability significantly predicted participants’ intention to exercise. A multiple regression revealed that both extrinsic motivation (0.142, p<0.01) and social desirability (0.314, p<0.01) were significant predictors of future exercise intention (F(4, 46)=5.992, p<.001, with an R-square value of 0.343), while intrinsic motivation (0.047, p=0.362) and implicit theories (0.021, p=0.863) were not significant predictors. These results partially supported my hypothesis, in that participants with higher extrinsic motivation scores had higher intention to exercise, compared to those who had lower extrinsic motivation. Contrary to my hypothesis, implicit theories did not have any significant influence on participants’ intention. Unexpected results also showed that social desirability scores had a positive correlation with intention to exercise. Participants’ intention to exercise did not differ much after viewing the Instagram feed. A small and local sample limited the power of this study. Even though some of the things I thought would matter did not, this study has brought more knowledge to the impact of social media on behavioral intentions.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Psychology, Fitness, Social media