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Studies in the Psychology of Physical Activity focus on the determinants and outcomes of psychological factors and physical activity in broad contexts and across a variety of populations. The faculty in this area draw from many specialty areas of psychology, including behavioral, clinical, cognitive, developmental, experimental, psychophysiological, and social. Faculty also have an appreciation for the psychology of physical activity in the context of the broader public health domain.


Particular themes of research include the role of various psychological processes (attention, motivation, self-regulation, interpersonal) in the performance of movement skills, behavioral and psychophysiological indices of motor learning, the influence of physical activity on the psychological well-being and brain functions of individuals over the life-span, theoretically-developed physical activity and health behavior change interventions, measurement of physical activity and psychological health, and examining the community, environmental and policy level factors associated with physical activity behavior.


Facilities in the Psychology of Physical Activity area include well-equipped research laboratories for examining the different research foci. Systems include recording equipment for whole-body and various segment movement kinematics and forces, an electrophysiological setup for examining brain electrical activity (EEG) during cognitive-motor tasks, assessment tools for measuring physical activity and health behaviors, and facilities to deliver graded exercise testing and intervention. Special purpose computer programs are available for simulation of movement dynamics, analysis of physical activity behavior output (e.g., accelerometry, pedometry, heart rate, etc.), data capture and visualization, and behavioral observation data videotaped in the field or in the lab. Transcription equipment and software for analysis of qualitative data also are available.


Learn more about the faculty members who mentor Psychology of Movement and Sport graduate students at Penn State:

Additional faculty

Additional faculty who have an interest in this area: