Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Nicole Zarrett


Research demonstrates that youth are motivated to initiate and continue participation in sport for social reasons. Allen (2003, 2005) developed the Social Motivational Orientations in Sport Scale (SMOSS) to help facilitate the measurement of social goals in sport. This instrument consists of three subscales—affiliation (i.e. have fun, make friends; seven items), recognition (i.e. receive recognition from others about sport involvement or ability; four items), and status (i.e. belong to the popular group; three items)—designed to measure these aspects of participants’ social motivations to sport involvement. However, the SMOSS has only been used among high school students and older adults in either the physical education (P.E.) or sport setting. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to explore social goals in sport using the SMOSS in a crucial yet understudied sample of underrepresented early adolescents; (2) and for physical activity more broadly (i.e. not P.E. class or organized sport). Participants (N = 180; M age = 12.19 years; 43.3% male; 72.8% Black) participated in a 12-week socially-based physical activity intervention and provided responses to the SMOSS at pre- and post-intervention. Results demonstrated the SMOSS’s ability to measure social goals in this sample of youth, though an exploratory factor analysis failed to replicate Allen’s (2005) three-factor model and instead yielded a two-factor model consisting of one dual social affiliation/recognition factor and one social status factor. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated support for the predictive validity of the SMOSS and further differentiated between these two factors through their ability to predict distinctly different outcomes at post-intervention. Findings suggest that, during this stage of development and in this subset of youth, affiliation/recognition goals to general physical activity function adaptively on early adolescents’ physical and psychosocial health via fewer peer problems and emotional problems; and provide further evidence that participate in physical activity to heighten social status has adverse effects on youth psychosocial functioning by means of increased peer problems. Directions for future research and applied applications are discussed.