Monday, October 18, 2010

Chapter 9: What Motivates You?

Ben and Jack have begun working out together; both have progressed well and have good commitment. But over time Jack has become unhappy with his workout regime and working out in general. He believes that he has hit a wall and is unable to progress any further. Rudy, their personal trainer has asked for my advice on changing Jack’s negative feelings towards working out and his inability to improve, and what I believe is behind his behavioral and motivational change.
My Advice:
As an outsider to the situation I believe that it’s obvious that Jack is bored with the same routine day after day. He has inquired about changing to group aerobic workouts, but to no avail. The first thing I would do would be to change Ben’s mind about aerobic workouts and enroll them both into a group workout class. This would provide Jack with a much needed change in workout regime. Group settings are also very good places to receive positive feedback from your peers. According to Vallerad and Reid; people’s intrinsic motivation increases with positive feedback and decreases with negative feedback. (Vallerand & Reid, 1984). Lack of positive feedback could be one of the main reasons behind Jack’s low motivation levels and his behavioral and attitudinal change. By joining the group aerobic class, he will be surrounded by positive people and positive feedback, thus improving his intrinsic motivation to continue working out and strive to improve.
Another technique that I would advise Rudy to employ would be attributional training. A study by Orbach, Singer and Price has been proven that people/athletes respond better to using adaptive attributions for turning around poor performance than using maladaptive techniques. (Orbach, Singer & Price, 1999) As Jack’s personal trainer, Rudy should tell Jack that his mental block and struggles with working out are controllable and unstable. What this basically means is that Jack does in fact have the ability to improve his overall performance. This idea is backed up by the results from their study as well. The results showed that those who learned to use more adaptive attributions had higher expectations for success and experienced more positive emotions than those who made more maladaptive attributions. (Orbach, Singer & Price, 1999)
The third aspect we must look at is self-determination. The self-determination theory looks at people’s need for relatedness, or social connectedness or belonging. (Deci & Ryan, 1985) This could also be what Jack is missing when he only works out with Ben and Rudy. In addition, perceptions (perceived competence, autonomy and relatedness), mediates the relationship between the social context and motivation. (Deci & Ryan, 1985) This again has to do with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. By using group exercise classes we can improve Jack’s intrinsic motivation by utilizing the positive affect of a group atmosphere and extrinsic motivation.
In conclusion I believe there is a lot of things we can use to improve Jack’s motivation but I found that using positive feedback, attributional training and the self-determination theory would be the easiest solution for Jack to succeed.


Deci, E.L. & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

Orbach, I., Singer, R.N., & Price, S. (1999). An attribution training program and achievment in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 69-82.

Vallerand, R.J. & Reid, G. (1984). On the casual effects of perceived competence on intrinsic motivation: A test of cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Sport Psychology, 6 94-102.


  1. I am totally in agreement that Jack is bored with his workouts. It's great that Ben encouraged him to start working out in the first place, but now he is holding back Jack. I also believe that encouraging Ben to partake in the aerobics class would be beneficial for both Ben and Jack. You never know, Ben might actually enjoy it. Positive feedback from Rudy is also very important. It is hard to motivate someone when they are bored, therefore making this slight change may really help increase Jacks motivation in his workouts. He can still continue to workout with Ben and lift weights, but changing things up a little bit and adding some new challenges will make a difference. Overall a good analysis of the case study.

  2. I also agree that Jack is bored with his current workouts and needs a change. And it may be to Ben’s benefit to try a group aerobic exercise class as well: perhaps Ben will enjoy the change of pace even if he still prefers their regular routine. However, it’s possible that Ben and Jack will not able to continue doing all of their workouts together since Jack may need change where Ben does not. Helping Ben and Jack to understand that they may have different workout needs but that they can still be supportive of each other might be another way to resolve this issue.