The effect of peers’ autonomy-supportive behaviour on adolescents’ psychological need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and objectively measured physical activity
Based on self-determination theory, adolescents’ leisure-time (LT) physical activity (PA) behaviour may depend on the extent by which they perceive an environment as autonomy-supportive. The present study aimed to investigate whether adolescents’ perception of autonomy-supportive behaviour from their peers is related to adolescents’ objectively measured LT moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) through perceived psychological needs satisfaction and intrinsic motivation towards PA. School students (n=215) aged between 12 to 15 years old (age: 13.20±0.96 yrs) completed self-reported measures of perceived peers’ autonomy support, psychological needs satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation in the context of LT PA. In addition, study participants wore an accelerometer (Acti-Graph GT3X) to monitor their MVPA. Results of the structural equation modelling revealed that perceived autonomy support from peers had a significant and positive effect on perceptions of all three psychological need satisfaction in LT, which, in turn, had a significant and positive effect on adolescents’ intrinsic motivation. Adolescents’ LT PA was significantly predicted by their intrinsic motivation towards PA. Only one pathway through autonomy need satisfaction was revealed by which adolescents’ perception of their peers’ autonomy-supportive behaviour is related to intrinsic motivation and MVPA. The findings of the current study highlight the role of peers’ autonomy-supportive behaviour on adolescents objectively measured PA through motivational processes in the context of LT.