What is it about?

Self-determination is a motivation theory that explains the prediction of motivational consequences from social environments and basic psychological needs. Using the hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, this study investigated the differential relationships among social environments (i.e. autonomy support, self-reference, and cooperative learning), basic psychological needs (i.e. autonomy, competence, and relatedness), and motivational regulations (e.g., intrinsic, extrinsic) in university PE courses in Hong Kong.

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Why is it important?

It is well documented that the physical activity levels of young adults have declined below the recommended guidelines on health. Since positive experiences in physical education (PE) could influence individuals to adopt physically active lifestyles, studying different motivation types (motivational regulations) in optional university PE is warranted. Multiple mediation analyses showed that all three social environments had positive indirect effects on intrinsic motivation and identified regulation through all three psychological needs, except for indirect effects of autonomy support through autonomy. Moreover, autonomy support had a positive indirect effect on introjected regulation through relatedness, and cooperative learning had a negative indirect effect on amotivation through autonomy. Overall, relatedness was the strongest mediator.


This was my very first research study conducted during my undergraduate studies in Hong Kong. It was exciting, yet through many challenges and modifications, that I could eventually get this project published. Also, it was the only study I did not in the U.S.

Dr Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The roles of need-supportive social environments in university physical education courses, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, June 2017, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/1612197x.2017.1339727.
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