What: A local parks and recreation department is looking to increase family memberships at their recreation center. The director has asked me to create worthwhile programs that will increase participant performances and foster positive attitudes towards physical activity.
Social facilitation is the idea that people perform better when more than one person if performing the same task, whether in a competitive setting or a team setting. With that said, if we can get families to come to our recreation center and workout together or play games together, their overall performance should increase.
Another theory to consider would be the social learning theory. It talks about the situation in which people find themselves in affects their behavior. For example, people may behave differently in the classroom than they would in the gym or with their parents than they would with their friends. (Gill & Williams, 2008)
Social influence is the final idea that I will look at as the fitness coordinator and it is defined as, “social influences include family, important others, class leaders, and group cohesion, as well as more traditional social facilitation (coexercisers).” (Carron, Hausenblas, Mack, 1996) I don’t think there is any denying that difference influences will have different affects on different people and on different situations, but as recreation professionals we need to know which ones will be positive and which ones may be harmful. Parent influence is typically positive but will have a different affect than their friends or peers would.
Now What: Since the goal is to increase family memberships, we need to understand what will influence children and their parents to participate and to continue to participate and a regular basis. Our Families Together and Active Program will strive to bring families together and have them participate in activities together. This is a good idea and one that will work, but I believe we need to understand the importance of peer influence as well. It is in children’s nature to be embarrassed by their family and want to be with their friends. So one way to get the best of both worlds would be to have a variety of programming ideas. Make it where on certain days it is family competitions, where the whole family competes together and towards one goal. And on the next day, allow the children to compete with their friends or against their friends. Using this technique should keep all of the activities fresh, as well as never allowing the participants to get bored because they are only participating with a small portion of other people. Using variety should increase their positive feeling towards physical activity because they might not even realize that they are participating in physical activity if they are constantly being influenced by other people and other influences/sports/activities.
In conclusion I believe it is important to use a wide variety of programming to keep things "fresh." This way it should keep negative feelings to a minimum and allow for maximum fun for the entire family.
Carron, A.V., Hausenblas, H.A., & Mack, D. (1996). Social influence: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 18, 1-16.
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.