Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Education


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Second Advisor

George S. Howard

Third Advisor

Thesba Johnston


Problem. Many theorists have long pondered the ability of human beings to self-determine or to demonstrate volition. Researchers in the human-studies field have been unable to demonstrate empirically the volitional components in human behavior due to the limitations of traditional, scientific methodologies. This study shows how volitional research could be conducted in the context of exercise behavior.

Method. Thirty-five individuals were recruited who wished to increase exercise behavior in their lifestyles. The study ran for 112 consecutive days and was conducted in four phases: baseline, simple volition, volition-plus, and maintenance. In the two volitional conditions, subjects tried to exercise as much as possible on half of the days and tried to refrain from exercising on the other half. In the simple volition condition exercise days were randomly assigned, and the experimenter and subject understood at the beginning of the condition the exact pattern of "try to exercise," "try not to exercise." In the volition-plus condition the subject could wait until theday before to decide whether the following day would be a "try to" or "try not to" day. This study may be regarded as 34 single-subject experiments. The data were analyzed using a t-test for means of correlated groups, and analysis of variance for repeated measures.

Results. (1) Subjects were able to demonstrate significant separation between exercise days and non-exercise days in the simple volition and volition-plus conditions. (2) Subjects exercised significantly more in the volition conditions than in baseline or maintenance conditions.

Conclusions. The findings of this study indicate that subjects do have volitional control of their exercise behaviors. Further, this study demonstrates one newly developed methodology that can be used in volitional research. The study provides implications for practice and future research in developing research methodologies that more fully reflect the unique attributes of human beings.

Subject Area

Will, Exercise