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Self-efficacy, planning, and preparatory behaviours as joint predictors of physical activity: A conditional process analysis

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Objective: Planning can bridge the gap between intentions and action, but what bridges the gap between planning and action? This study helps to answer the question by disentangling the interrelationships between self-efficacy, planning and preparatory behaviours in predicting physical activity. Preparatory behaviours are tested as a working mechanism of planning. Moreover, it is tested whether the utility of preparatory behaviours depends on an individual’s level of self-efficacy.

Methods: A survey assessed planning, self-efficacy and preparatory behaviours for physical activity. Adults (N = 166) provided data at two measurement points. In a longitudinal model, preparatory behaviours were specified as a mediator between planning and physical activity. Self-efficacy was specified as a possible moderator at two points in the model.

Results: Preparatory behaviours mediated the relationship between planning and physical activity. An interaction between self-efficacy and preparatory behaviours on physical activity was found, indicating that individuals with low self-efficacy beliefs were more active if they engaged more frequently in preparatory behaviours.

Conclusion: Planning seems to stimulate preparatory behaviours, which in turn make future physical activity more likely. Furthermore, as performing preparatory behaviours represent a step forward towards the enactment of behavioural goals, preparatory behaviours may be particular beneficial for individuals afflicted by self-doubts regarding physical activity.
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Keywords: health behaviour change; moderated mediation; physical activity; planning; preparatory behaviours; self-efficacy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany 2: Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, Australia

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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