Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Muireann O’Connor 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Muireann O'Connor. I am a new graduate of the BSc Applied Psychology in IADT. During my studies, I gained a particular interest in sport and health, educational psychology, and positive psychology. I hope to continue my studies in one of these areas. I am currently completing my training for Crisis Text Line where I hope to help people and gain experience of working with people.

Project Description

Exercise motivation through Social Media, Gender and Content-type

Social media has become a common platform to publicize diet and exercise behaviours and communicate general views regarding fitness and well-being by both males and females. For this study, 132 participants (91 females / 37 males) aged between 18-50+ years completed a survey. Participants were randomly assigned to survey I or survey T. Survey I consisted of exercise-related social media posts with an image. Survey T presented exercise-related posts with only text. Participants rated the extent to which they felt each social media post motivated them to exercise, would inspire others to exercise, and was posted for extrinsic reasons such as approval. The data were used for statistical analyses.

Project Objectives

This study aimed to explore characteristics of social media content that may reinforce or suppress healthy behaviours such as exercise. More specifically, this study aimed to examine how the influence of exercise-related social media content on exercise motivation might differ across content type (with images vs without images) and gender (males vs females).

Project Outcomes

Contrary to expectations, participants reported more motivation to exercise from posts without an image. However, participants also expected others to be more motivated by the stimuli than themselves, and males rated more posts for being made for external purposes than females. It is important to acknowledge that the current research only provides a narrow view of the multiple factors influencing health behaviours. The present study, perhaps most notably, focuses on self-reported motivation to exercise as a measure of behavioural intentions rather than actual exercise activity. Secondly, the participants of the present study appeared to be in good health. When investigating the efficacy of exercise-related social media, an active and relatively healthy sample is not ideal when creating an action plan to promote exercise, explicitly targeting an insufficiently active population.

Thesis Title

Exercise motivation through Social Media, Gender and Content-type