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Physical activity: a family affair
Physical activity: a family affair

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8 Putting the pieces together

So far in this course we have examined a broad range of factors that contribute to the family’s socialisation of children into physical activity. Inevitably we are unable to analyse every study and paper relating to this topic as there are simply so many. However, the next activity guides you to consider a key journal article in this area. It is a cross-sectional study comprising a range of questionnaires designed to ascertain the influence of parental socialisation and children’s psychological characteristics upon their attraction to physical activity. It also refers back to Eccles’ expectancy-value theory introduced in Activity 3.

Activity 7 Parental influences on physical activity

Timing: Allow about 60 minutes

Read the article by Brustad (1993) entitled ‘Who will go out and play? Parental and psychological influences on children’s attraction to physical activity [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’.

Then answer the following questions.

  1. What limitations do you notice from the sample used?
  2. Through what procedures was the parent data gathered? Do you think the research instruments used have any limitations?
  3. To what extent did the results support the proposed model of relationships among parental influences and children’s attraction to physical activity?


  1. You may have questioned why approximately 95% of the children in the study were Caucasian and from an upper middle-class background. Therefore, can we apply the results of this study to the general population?
  2. The parental data was gathered using questionnaires. These were sent home to parents in a letter. Only one of each set of parents was asked to complete the questionnaire and so this does not necessarily reflect the other parents’ attitudes. The majority of questionnaires were completed by mothers. For measures of physical fitness the researchers were reliant upon the parents’ own assessment rather than a physical test. One PE teacher lost a sample of the parental questionnaires and so out of 231 children only 81 parental questionnaires were obtained, reducing the sample size considerably.
  3. The paper concluded that parental influences, children’s gender and children’s self-perception characteristics are all important in shaping a child’s attraction to physical activity.