The influence of motivation and conditional goal setting on obese children's weight loss success in a resistance training program

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


F acuity of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Moira O'Connor

Second Advisor

Julie Ann Pooley


Aim: The present study aimed to investigate psychological influences upon overweight and obese eight to twelve year aids weight loss success in a resistance training program.

Design: A mixed method repeated measures design was used. The quantitative component involved participants' completing self-report questionnaires on conditional goal setting, motivation, depression and self-concept at pre-test, post-test and at an eight week follow-up. Body composition data was collected at the same time periods using Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry. The qualitative component involved a small group of participants' participating in two semi-structured interviews, one early in their involvement in the resistance training program and one following completion of the resistance training. The interviews were conducted from an interpretivist framework and were designed to obtain participants' insight into factors that influenced their motivation and weight loss success.

Research Question and Hypotheses: The overarching research question for the study was: What factors influence motivation and weight loss success among eight to twelve year aids participating in a resistance training program? To answer this research question and to guide analysis of the quantitative data four hypotheses were posed:

  1. Over the course of the resistance training program participants with higher intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will experience greater amounts of weight loss compared to participants with lower intrinsic and extrinsic motivation;

  2. Over the course of the resistance training program self-concept will be positively associated with intrinsic motivation and inversely associated with extrinsic motivation;

  3. Individuals who make their overall happiness conditional on their weight loss outcomes will have higher depression symptomatology both before and after the resistance training program compared to mid and low conditional goal setters; and

  4. High conditional goal setters will have lower self-concept and lower motivation before and after the resistance training and lower weight loss outcomes compared to mid and low conditional goal setters.

Participants: Fifty nine participants were recruited to participate in the resistance training program. Eleven left the program within the first few weeks. The remaining 4 7 participants were recruited to participate in the present study. The weight range of participants was 33.79 - 84.64kg and the range of percentage fat in participants' body composition was 25.3 48.7%. Of the 47 participants involved in the quantitative part of this study 10 were recruited to participate in the semi-structured interviews. The weight range of these participants was 45.31-73.29kg and the percentage fat ranged between 37.9-43.4%.

Results: Results of the data analysis revealed that motivation significantly declined between pre-test and post-test and seemingly had little influence upon participants’ weight loss success. There was also no evidence that self-concept affected motivation. Conditional goal setting was found to significantly influence participants1 weight loss success as well as their depression, self-concept and motivation. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts revealed a number of influences on motivation and participants1 weight loss success including the influence of participants' social context, self-concept, experience of autonomy and control and the influence of external forces including parents and the resistance training program.

Conclusion: The present study provided insight into some of the individual factors that affect children1s motivation and weight loss success in a resistance training program. Implications of this information for future research are discussed.

LCSH Subject Headings

Obesity in children - Psychological aspects

Obesity in children - Exercise therapy

Exercise for children - Psychological aspects

Weight loss - Psychological aspects

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