Influence of Practice Motives, Physical Activity and Resistant Personality in Primary and Early Childhood Teachers

Juana María Gutiérrez Caballero

Sebastián Feu Molina

Alberto Blázquez Manzano

*Corresponding author: Sebastián Feu Molina sfeu@unex.es

Original Language Spanish

Cite this article

Gutiérrez Caballero, J. M., Feu Molina, S., & Blázquez Manzano, A. (2022). Influence of Practice Motives, Physical Activity and Resistant Personality in Primary and Early Childhood Teachers. Apunts Educación Física y Deportes, 150, 20-27. https://doi.org/10.5672/apunts.2014-0983.es.(2022/4).150.03

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Abstract

The aim of this research was to analyse the relationships between motives for physical activity, physical activity level and variables that encourage resistance at work, as well as the relationship between the most self-determined motives for physical activity and the components of a resistant personality in Spanish pre-school and primary school teachers. Using a descriptive, comparative and cross-sectional design, a questionnaire was administered to a sample of 649 practising teachers. Specifically, the MPAM-R (Motives for Physical Activity Measure-Revised) Questionnaire, the Work Resilience Questionnaire and the PACE (Physician-based Assessment and Counselling for Exercise) Questionnaire. The validity and reliability of the scales and the correlations between the factors were analysed. Finally, several hypotheses were studied through structural equation modelling. The results indicated that leisure (ß = .29), competition (ß = .25) and fitness (ß = .14) are predictors of physical-sporting activity performed (R2 = .37). Motives and level of physical activity together predict 15% of the challenge variable (R2 = .15). Physical-sport activity is positively related to the challenge  dimension (ß = .36) is positively related to engagement (ß = .66) and control (ß = .45). Physical activity can improve resistant personality in the challenge dimension.

Keywords: Motivation, psychology of education, resistance to change, Sport, Teacher.

Introduction

Exploring resistant personality has been of great interest in recent years in the educational context, given that the work of teachers can be considered to be one of the most stress-prone professions (Arís, 2009). It refers to an individual’s ability to understand external conditions accurately and make the best decisions for oneself (Khaledian et al., 2013). The result of this process is defined as coping and is expressed in behaviours such as focusing on controlling or changing the stressful situation, changing the perception of the stressful situation to reduce emotional discomfort or distancing, focusing on other less relevant stimuli.

In fact, high values of resistant personality have been found to induce a transformational coping style, that is, the ability to “interpret potentially stressful events as opportunities for learning and personal growth” (Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy, 2002, p. 143). 

This construct is composed of three factors: challenge, engagement and control, all of which must be understood together to be considered resistant and they explain 33% of the variance of burnout (Oliver, 1993).

The challenge factor provides participants with a vision in which life changes are interpreted as a possibility to improve their own skills (Moreno-Jiménez et al., 2014), i.e. a predisposition to search for alternative situations and solutions (Garrosa & Carmona, 2011). This factor is particularly important in the field of sport given that competition, as a stressful situation, is inherent to its core logic and involves facing individual and/or group challenges. This is illustrated by authors such as Weinberg & Gould (1995), who point out that “highly competitive people tend to seek out competitive situations and are more motivated to succeed in them, compared to people with low levels of competitiveness” (p. 107). 

The engagement factor refers to the tendency to identify with what is being done and therefore entails active involvement (De la Vega et al., 2011). It would be a quality that, in addition to self-esteem and personal competence, involves a sense of community and corporation. According to Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy (2002), this attitude minimises the perceived threat of a life event through the ability to turn to others at such times. Other authors such as Moreno-Jiménez et al. (2012) found that this engagement factor has direct, significant and moderating effects on vigour and burnout.

The control factor urges one to seek explanations for events by emphasising one’s own responsibility over the actions of others or fate (Eschleman et al., 2010). Authors such as Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy (2002) point out that this attitude of control over ones’ experiences intensifies resistance to stress, since the individuals identify themselves as active protagonists, influencing the course of actions through their skills and decisions. 

Perhaps a more clarifying definition of these three factors of resistant personality is how an individual views the same stressful event differently and how s/he would buffer its effects. Thus, from the engagement approach, such events would be perceived as situations with emotional significance; from the control approach, they would be considered a modifiable situation under the sphere of our control; and from the challenge approach, a normal life situation that offers an opportunity for growth (Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy, 2002). 

It should be noted, therefore, that a resistant personality presents a more optimistic perception of events and the that ther wil disposition of coping strategies focused on the search for a solution to the problem and the reformulation of events and their consequences (Garrosa & Carmona, 2011). 

Some studies suggest that it is the control and engagement factors, or only the control factor, that truly make up the concept of resistant personality (Florian et al., 1995). In the case of firefighters, the challenge factor has been found to act in the relationship between burnout and organisational stressors, with engagement being the factor that regulates the associated symptomatology (Moreno et al., 2006). In this sense, relationships have been found between the engagement and challenge factors with social support but not with the control dimension (Ganellen & Blaney, 1984). Other authors, like Diloy-Peña et al. (2021), in their study with secondary school students, showed the importance of avoiding a controlling style on the part of PE teachers in order to generate more rewarding experiences for their students.

The importance of the study of resistant personality in physical-sporting activity lies in investigating how potentially stressful stimuli inherent to sporting activity are perceived and the behavioural response to them, modulating performance or injuries (De la Vega et al., 2011). 

The relationship between resistant personality and sport performance has been found in different sport disciplines: in elite athletes with and without disabilities (Penna et al. 2004) or Spanish middle and long-distance runners (De la Vega et al., 2011), among others. While it is true that interest in this relationship between resistant personality and physical-sporting activity has evolved mainly in the field of sport, it is starting to occur in the other direction, as the practice of physical activity also helps to develop a healthier resistant personality, reducing the perception of stress (Garrosa & Carmona, 2011). 

If we go a step further in the study of this relationship between resistant personality and physical-sporting activity, we find the motives for practising. It is well known that people engage in physical activity for different reasons (Moreno-Murcia et al., 2016). 

In this regard, active participants have a greater intention to practice in the future (Blázquez et al., 2015). Authors such as Pavón-Lores et al. (2004) found that competition, social interaction and adventure are more highly valued by male university students, while physical fitness, body image and health are more highly valued by female students. 

Given the importance of a resistant personality for better coping in the profession of teaching, and taking into account the possibilities offered by the sporting context as a scenario in which to discover how to perceive stressful situations and improve their development, it is particularly important to investigate the relationships between teachers’ level of physical activity, their resistant personality and their motivation for sport. Thus, authors such as Jaenes et al. (2009), with reference to marathon runners, highlight that one of the characteristics of the act of sport is the challenge, as they perceive the uncertainty of competition or training as a challenge to be faced. Therefore, the importance of this sub-construct in the teaching context characterised by the stressful scenario mentioned above is evident.

It could be argued that people who engage in more physical activity for leisure, health and competition would be more resistant as they have a greater capacity to face challenges that improve their lives. 

For all these reasons, the first objective was to analyse the relationships between the reasons for physical activity, the level of physical activity and the variables that favour endurance at the workplace. In addition, the second objective was to analyse the most self-determined set of relationships: leisure, competition and fitness/health, with each of the components of the resistant personality: control, challenge and engagement. To this end, it has been proposed, as a global hypothesis, that there will be a positive relationship between the motives for practising for leisure,fitness and competition, with the amount of physical activity performed, and in turn that there will be a positive relationship between the intention to be physically active and the challenge component within a resistant personality as the variable that most influences endurance at work and satisfaction with life, Figure 1.

Figure 1
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Hypothetical model of the relationships between the motives for doing physical-sports activities and their relationship with the capacity
for work endurance.

On the basis of the above model, the following hypotheses are put forward:

H1: the practice of PA has a direct positive effect on the challenge variable greater than engagement and control. H2 and H3: the practice of PA has a positive and direct influence on the variables control and engagement of resistance at the workplace. H4 a, b and c: the most self-determined motives for PA, leisure, competition and fitness, have a positive effect on the physical activity variable.

Methodology

Design

The present study followed an associative strategy with a predictive, cross-sectional study (Ato et al., 2013). Structural equation modelling was used to test several hypotheses at the same time (Ruiz et al., 2010). 

Participants

The sample consisted of 649 active pre-school and primary school teachers, 76.64% of whom were female and 23.36% male; the majority profile was of teachers aged 26-40 years (62.90%). The sample was accessed through an online questionnaire which was distributed during March and April through resources and teachers’ centres and teachers’ associations. This work was positively assessed by the Bioethics and Biosafety Commission of the University of Extremadura, with registration number 244/2019.

Resources

Revised Scale of Motives for Physical Activity. 

One of the tools used is the Scale of Motives for Physical Activity adapted to the Spanish context and validated (Moreno-Murcia et al., 2007). In this work, 28 items were used, grouped into five factors: enjoyment, appearance, social, competition and fitness, on a five-point Likert scale, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 “strongly agree”.

Physical Activity

The PACE Questionnaire, Physician-based Assessment and Counselling for Exercise (Martínez-Gómez et al., 2009), was used to measure teachers’ weekly physical activity. This questionnaire analyses how many days 60 minutes of physical activity was performed in the last week and in a typical week. This questionnaire has been used in other work with adults (Blázquez et al., 2015).

Study of Resistant Personality

The Occupational Resilience Questionnaire was used to measure resilient personality in its three dimensions (Moreno-Jiménez et al., 2014): engagement, control and challenge, through a series of statements about various situations on a four-choice Likert-type scale (1 = Completely disagree, to 4 = Completely agree).

Statistical Analysis

Descriptive data were calculated for the variables used and a correlational analysis was carried out using Pearson’s correlation coefficient for variables with a normal distribution and Spearman’s correlation coefficient for those with a non-normal distribution. The reliability of the questionnaires was also calculated by means of Crombach’s Alpha, with the factors considered to be appropriate being > .70 (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994). 

A structural equation model (SEM) was then applied to test the initial hypotheses set out in Figure 1. The estimation method used was adapted to the univariate and multivariate normality of the items used; therefore, as univariate normality was not met for some items and multivariate normality was not met, it was decided to use the unweighted least squares (ULS) method.  

Similarly, several best-fit indices were studied to accept or reject a model (Hu & Bentler, 1999). These goodness of fit statistics are: the chi-square ratio / degrees of freedom (X2/gl), where values below 5 are acceptable and below 2 are indicators of very good fit (Hu & Bentler, 1999). Additionally the normed fit index (NFI), the goodness of fit index (GFI), and the adjusted goodness of fit index (AGFI), where values ≥ .95 are adequate. Finally, the square root of the residual (RMR) and the standardised square root of the residual (SRM) were also analysed, where values < .05 are adequate and between .05 and .08 were considered reasonable (Ruiz et al., 2010).

Results

The results of descriptive analyses indicated that the mean of the highest scoring resilient personality variables were engagement and challenge (Table 1). In terms of reasons for doing sport, leisure and fitness were the highest rated by teachers. Finally, teachers’ physical activity practice could be considered low and with a high dispersion (M = 2.67 ± T.D. = 1.72). All variables used in the study had good reliability (Table 1). When the skewness and kurtosis values were checked, it was found that the engagement variables with respect to skewness had values greater than |1.96| and therefore did not follow a normal distribution (Finney & DiStefano, 2006). 

Table 1

Reliability of the variables in the study.

See Table

As the hypothesis of normality was not met in the engagement variable, a correlation analysis was carried out with this variable using Spearman’s correlation coefficient, Table 2, while Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used for the rest of the variables. 

Table 2

Correlations between work-related resistance, practice motives and physical activity.

See Table

The results indicated positive correlations between the variables determining resistant personality, reasons for practising sport and physical activity and the practice of physical activity. The highest correlations were found between the challenge variable and the motives for competition (r = .25; p < .05) and fitness (r = .21; p < .05), Table 3. There was a correlation, albeit low, between the amount of physical activity carried out and the challenge variable (rs = .14; p < .05). The motives for pracitsing for leisure, competition and fitness correlated strongly with the level of physical activity. 

The hypothetical model proposed, Figure 1, indicated that physical activity practice and motives for practice would have the ability to predict higher values for some of the occupational endurance variables. The model was tested using structural equation modelling, where in a first model it was observed that there were items with saturations below .50 in control and challenge factors. 

Finally, the model consisted of fifty-seven variables: twenty-four observed variables or indicators and thirty-three unobserved variables. It should also be noted that 27 variables were endogenous and 30 exogenous.   

The model’s skewness and kurtosis data indicated that three items showed values greater than |1.96| and that the multivariate kurtosis was high (km = 174.49; C.R. = 58.28) (Byrne, 2010). The indices indicate a good fit: X2 = 524.37; DF = 267; X2/DF = 1.96;GFI = .989; AGFI = .987; NFI = .986; RFI = .984; RMR = .050; SRMR = .10. All the saturations of the latent indicators obtained in the model are between .52 and .93.  

The motives for leisurely physical activity (ß = .25), competition(ß = .25) and fitness (ß = .14) were predictor variables for physical activity performed, with a coefficient of completion R2 = .37.  

The results of the coefficient of determination (R2), which explained the variance of the model, were above the minimum (R2  > .01). In addition, the predictive ability of the motives for sport and physical activity was 15 % for the variable challenge (R2 = .15). However, the model did not predict the engagement variables (R2 =  06) and control (R2 = .04). Physical activity was positively correlated with the following variables challenge (ß = .39), engagement (ß = .25) and control (ß = .19), Figure 2.

Figure 2
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Model 1 of structural equations.

Given that the coefficients of determination of the engagement and control variables were low, and hypotheses H1 and H2 could not be verified, it was decided to implement a new model to determine the influence of challenge on these two variables. The results of the second model indicated that the challenge had a direct positive relationship on engagement (ß = .47) and control (ß = .48), and that physical activity had a direct relationship with the challenge variable(ß = .35), which explained 12% of the variance (R2 = .12), Figure 3. 

Figure 3
See Full Size
Model 2 of structural equations.

Discussion  

This work has analysed the relationships between practice motives and level of sport practice with the variables that shape a resistant personality: control, engagement and challenge. The idea for this study emerged from the lack of studies that have focused on the influence of physical and sporting activity carried out by teachers, specifically in primary and infant education, with respect to a resistant personality in the workplace. 

Analysis of the correlations between variables indicated that challenge is the only one of the resistant personality variables that is positively related to physical activity performed by teachers. 

In the literature we found studies that conclude, in the case of athletes, that a more resistant personality is related to the practice of sport, and that this is due to the fact that they need to face more frequently stressful situations inherent to the activity where new challenges are presented (De la Vega et al., 2011). In the case of teachers, this relationship has only been found with the challenge variable of resistant personality. According to Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy’s (2002) explanation, this could be explained from the perspective of the challenge variable of a resistant personality, that physical-sporting activity could symbolise a moment in life that offers an opportunity for improvement.

There could be logic to these findings, given that if we consider the importance of cognitive evaluation in making the most of moments of flow in stressful situations experienced by athletes (Williams & Andersen, 1997), the challenge could be explained, as it is considered a characteristic of the sporting act (Jaenes et al., 2009).

It was decided to study the relationship between more self-determined motivations and resistant personality variables. It is noteworthy that the highest correlations in the resistant personality were found in the sub-construct challenge with the motives for physical activity: competition, fitness and leisure. A possible explanation could be that those people with motives for physical-sport activity based on competition, fitness and leisuremightunderstand these elements of physical activity as those that define it as a life action with an opportunity for improvement (Godoy-Izquierdo & Godoy, 2002), feeling more able to face it as a way to improve their own capabilities (Moreno-Jiménez et al., 2014). 

As a second aim, we set out to analyse the set of relationships between the motives of leisure, competition and fitness to be physically active and their relationship with the challenge variable. For this purpose, a global model was conducted in which a positive relationship was found between the motives of leisure, fitness and competition with the physical activity performed, and in turn there was a stronger positive relationship between physical activity and challenge compared to the other variables that made up the construct of resistant personality. The model showed that physical activity only had an impact on the challenge variable and that fun and competition, excluding the fitness variable, were the most related motivations for doing more physical activity. The model demonstrates that intrinsic motivations, i.e. the most self-determined ones, favour the practice of physical-sporting activity, in line with Moreno-Murcia & Martínez (2006).

The results obtained were in line with another work (Moreno et al., 2006) where it was found that the challenge factor is the one that plays a role in shaping the relationship between burnout and organisational stressors, i.e. in the perception of environmental stimuli. It is therefore not surprising that those teachers who interpreted the environment as a challenge or opportunity for growth were the ones who practised physical activity as an enhancement of their skills or for leisure. Some studies have found high levels of resistant personality in athletes (De la Vega et al., 2011). 

It should be noted that one of the characteristics of the athletes was the quality of engagement, which allowed them to minimise the perceived threat of long-term goals (Jaenes et al., 2009). It should be reiterated that, although physical activity reduced the perception of stress (Garrosa & Carmona, 2011), it was the engagement variable together with optimism that played a role in shaping burnout in primary school teachers (Moreno et al., 2006). 

In a second model studied, it was found that the challenge variable is positively related to engagement (ß = .66)and the control (ß = .45), although resistant personality must be understood in conjunction with all three factors in order to be considered resistant. Note, in this regard, the results of Ganellen & Blaney (1984), who found relationships between the engagement and challenge factors with social support but not with the control dimension.

Conclusions

In this study conducted with teachers in Spain, in which the type of physical activity and participation in competition, whether amateur or professional, were not analysed, the highest scores in relation to resistant personality were for the variable engagement followed by challenge.

Challenge was the only one of the resistant personality variables that was positively related to the physical activity performed by the teachers studied.

The motives of leisure, competition and fitness were strongly correlated with the level of physical activity.

Applying structural equation modelling, it was found that leisure, competition and fitness motives for physical activity could be predictor variables for physical activity (model 1).

Similarly, challenge had a direct positive relationship on engagement and control and physical activity had a direct relationship with the challenge variable, explaining 13 % of the variance.

In the future, it would be necessary to investigate which conditions of weekly practice or type of physical activity would be the most appropriate to improve resistant personality, as well as the inclusion of other constructs such as life satisfaction or social support. 

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ISSN: 2014-0983

Received: December 7, 2021

Accepted: April 20, 2022

Published: October 1, 2022