Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: A Social Identity Approach to Understanding and Promoting Physical Activity
Author(s): Stevens, Mark
Rees, Tim
Coffee, Pete
Steffens, Niklas K
Haslam, S Alexander
Polman, Remco
Contact Email:
Issue Date: Oct-2017
Citation: Stevens M, Rees T, Coffee P, Steffens NK, Haslam SA & Polman R (2017) A Social Identity Approach to Understanding and Promoting Physical Activity. Sports Medicine, 47 (10), pp. 1911-1918.
Abstract: Against the backdrop of a global physical inactivity crisis, attempts to both understand and positively influence physical activity behaviours are characterized by a focus on individual-level factors (e.g., cognitions, attitudes, motivation). Drawn from an emerging body of work that has explored the applicability of social identity and self-categorization theories to domains of sport and health, we outline a new perspective from which to understand and address this pervasive problem. This social identity approach suggests that the groups to which people belong can be, and often are, incorporated into their sense of self and, through this, are powerful determinants of physical activity-related behaviour. We start by reviewing the current state of physical activity research and highlighting the potential for the social identity approach to help understand how social factors influence these behaviours. Next, we outline the theoretical underpinnings of the social identity approach, and provide three key examples that speak to the analytical and practical value of the social identity approach in physical activity settings. Specifically, we argue (1) that social identity can be harnessed to promote engagement in physical activity, (2) that social identity underpins exercise group behaviour, and (3) that social identity underpins effective leadership in exercise settings. We conclude by identifying prospects for a range of theory-informed research developments.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s40279-017-0720-4
Rights: © The Author(s) 2017 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Stevens-etal-SportsMed-2017.pdfFulltext - Published Version414.95 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.