Role and group identity and adjustment to the possibility of running group disbandment

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Role and group identities are distinct yet related constructs. Both identities may be relevant to exercise yet exercise identity research has focused mostly on exercise role identity.ObjectiveWe examined the relationship between role and group identity among runners. Further, the relationship of runner role and running group identity were examined relative to social cognitive and behavioural outcomes relative to running and the possibility of running group disbandment.DesignAn observational design was used.MethodRunning group members completed measures of runner role and running group identity, self-efficacy for running, and aspects of recent exercise and anticipated reactions to running group disbandment.ResultsRunner role and running group identity showed a small, positive correlation. Runner role identity was associated with self-efficacy for running, vigorous exercise, less group running and adaptive reactions to the possibility of group disbandment. Running group identity was associated with negative self-efficacy, greater percentage of runs being conducted with the group and maladaptive reactions to group disbandment. Runner role and running group identity did not interact in their relationship to exercise-related outcomes.ConclusionsIn the context of running, role and group identities are related but unique variables. Identification as a runner may not only be associated with exercise in the context of the group but may also have protective effects against disruptions to group running. Identification with the running group may compromise exercise in the face of group disbandment.

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