Associate Professorship of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials publishes paper in the journal “Psychology of Sport & Exercise”

At the beginning of the year, many people make new year' s resolutions to go to the gym more often and do something for their health by exercising regularly. However, how long does this motivation last? And, what about your own self-assessment when it comes to regular visits to the gym? The Associate Professorship of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials headed by Prof. Dr. Veit Senner has investigated these and other questions in a collaborative research project. With the title “Sustainable Fitness Service”, the motivational structure or motivational dispositions of fitness customers were analysed in cooperation with the German University of Prevention and Health Management (DHfPG), the TUM Chair of Psychology and the Institute of Sport Psychology at the University of Vienna, as well as their effect on participation in sport, with the aim of eventually conceptualizing motivational training programs that can promote a lifelong active lifestyle.

The research results have now been published in the journal “Psychology of Sport & Exercise” under the title “Achievement motive, autonomous motivation, and attendance at fitness centre: A longitudinal prospective study”. The journal has an impact factor of 2.819.

“Through other studies, we have already been able to observe that the so-called 'drop-out rate' at gyms has been very high in recent years,” explains Philipp Moritz Kopp, first author of the publication and Research Associate at the Associate Professorship of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials. “Therefore, we wanted to investigate the influence of individual motivational dispositions, among other factors, since hardly anyone has investigated this intrapsychic phenomenon in long-term study designs until now.”

The research project was consequently conducted as a multi-centre longitudinal study in cooperation with 16 different fitness studios in Germany. The overall study ran from August 2016 to September 2017, with each test person undergoing a study period of 30 weeks, in which there were four different measurement points. Participants consisted of people who had just signed up as new gym members. A total of 229 participants took part in the first survey at the beginning, of which 149 went through all four measurements at the end of the study.

Psychological variables as well as gym attendance in the first, fourth, 15th and 30th week after commencing the membership were assessed.  Two motivational theories were used for this purpose. On the one hand, the “Achievement Motive Theory” was applied, which assumes that people have a natural need to achieve a high level of success in various activities. Secondly, the “Self-determination Theory” was used, which emphasises the importance of the quality of motivation to participate in behaviours such as physical activity and sport.

The implicit achievement motive was measured using the computer-based method known as the “Picture Story Exercise”, which has its roots in the Thematic Apperception Test. The participants were shown five frequently used, but context-related images in order to initially stimulate unconscious, implicit motifs, on the basis of which they could write an imaginative story about the depicted scene.

The explicit achievement motive and the exercise motivations were measured once more using questionnaires. Attendance at the gym was recorded via self-reporting, but also electronically.

“This was the first long-term study conducted under actual and real conditions,” says Kopp. “Among other things, we wanted to investigate how subjective participation differs from objective participation. And, our hypothesis was confirmed, because the participants clearly and significantly overestimated their actual visits to the gyms.”

“This doctoral project by Philipp Kopp is aimed at the field of feedback,” Prof. Senner classifies the study in conclusion. “Based on the results, we now want to see how, for example, a piece of fitness equipment itself can provide direct feedback to exercisers after they have performed a movement. By doing this, we hope to have the positive effect of keeping people motivated for longer due to the positive feedback and, consequently, maintaining their gym membership in the long term.”

In addition to their publication in the journal “Psychology of Sport & Exercise”, further research results were also published in May 2020 in the journal “Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology” under the title “Regular Exercise Participation and Volitional Competencies”. The main focus of the publication dealt with volitional determinants in relation to sport participation.


To the publication „Achievement motive, autonomous motivation, and attendance at fitness center: A longitudinal prospective study“ in the journal “Psychology of Sport & Exercise”

To the homepage of the Associate Professorshop of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials



Prof. Dr.-Ing Dipl.-Sportl. Veit Senner
Associate Professorship of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials
Boltzmannstr. 15
85748 Garching b. München

phone: 089 289 15364
e-mail: senner(at)

Philipp Moritz Kopp
Associate Professorship of Sport Equipment and Sport Materials
Boltzmannstr. 15
85748 Garching b. München

phone: 089 289 15380
e-mail: pm.kopp(at)

Text: Romy Schwaiger
Photos: „Psychology of Sport & Exercise“/private