The influence of social-cognitive constructs and personality traits on physical activity in healthy adults

Graeme Smith, Lynn Williams, Christopher O'donnell, James McKechnie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


The psychosocial factors involved in successful physical activity engagement are not fully understood. Research suggests that specific personality traits (e.g. extraversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism) influence physical activity behaviour. There is also evidence that social-cognitive constructs (e.g. self-efficacy, self-regulation, outcome expectations, social support, and perceived barriers) can significantly explain and predict physical activity behaviour. The current study aimed to investigate the influence of personality and social-cognitive constructs on physical activity over a 2-week period. The study employed a prospective design in which 94 participants provided 2-weeks of pedometer data and completed daily diary measures of non-ambulatory physical activity. In addition, all participants completed self-report measures of the Big Five personality traits and social-cognitive constructs. Multiple regression analyses revealed that social-cognitive constructs significantly explained 35.6% of the variance in physical activity, with goal setting emerging as a key predictor. Although personality did not have an effect on physical activity overall, subsequent analyses found significant differences in neuroticism between activity groups, and personality significantly interacted with social-cognitive constructs to influence behaviour. The findings suggest a key role for goal setting, barrier self-efficacy, conscientiousness, and neuroticism in explaining physical activity behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2016


  • physical activity
  • self-efficacy
  • goal setting
  • neuroticism
  • social-cognitive theory
  • the Big Five


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