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Happiness in Physical Activity: A Longitudinal Examination of Children Motivation and Negative Affect in Physical Activity


Physical activity has beneficial effects on health and is extremely recommended for children's well-being. Understanding risk factors that could cause negative affect in children practicing physical activity is hugely relevant, and there is a growing consensus that autonomous and controlled motivation in the self-determination theory (SDT) framework could offer a broader perspective. Consequently, this study aims to examine the longitudinal relations between autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and negative affect in physical activity, using a sample of children that regularly participate in physical activity. One hundred forty children in the range age between 7 and 11 (M = 8.45, SD = 0.93) that regularly participated in physical activity completed a battery of questionnaires at two times. Results of the cross-lagged structural model showed that controlled motivation at T1 positively predicts negative affect in physical activity at T2. Overall, the results of this study support the hypotheses based on the SDT framework regarding the role of motivation to predict affects in the physical activity context.