Background: The purpose of the present study was to use a person-oriented analytical approach to identify latent motivational profiles, based on the different behavioural regulations for exercise, and to examine differences in satisfaction of basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy and relatedness) and exercise behaviour across these motivational profiles.
Methods: Two samples, consisting of 1084 and 511 adults respectively, completed exercise-related measures of behavioural regulation and psychological need satisfaction as well as exercise behaviour. Latent profile analyses were used to identify motivational profiles.
Results: Six profiles, representing different combinations of regulations for exercise, were found to best represent data in both samples. Some profiles were found in both samples (e.g., low motivation profile, self-determined motivation profile and self-determined with high introjected regulation profile), whereas others were unique to each sample. In line with the Self-Determination Theory, individuals belonging to more self-determined profiles demonstrated higher scores on need satisfaction.
Conclusions: The results support the notions of motivation being a multidimensional construct and that people have different, sometimes competing, reasons for engaging in exercise. The benefits of using person-oriented
analyses to examine within-person interactions of motivation and different regulations are discussed.