Date of Conferral


Date of Award







Kimberley Cox


Prohealth competencies, positive outcome expectancies, and adaptive stress appraisals have profound implications for the real-world transition of college seniors—a population for which engagement in physical activity reflects a preeminent concern. Prior studies on exercise self-efficacy (ESE), dispositional optimism (DO), perceived stress (PS), and physical activity have yielded inconclusive evidence of the emergent psychosocial challenges encountered during the final year of the college experience. Using a triadic framework of self-efficacy, attribution, and cognitive appraisal theories, this crosssectional, quantitative study was conducted using a web survey to examine (a) the impact of physical activity level on ESE, DO, and PS; (b) the relationships that exist between ESE, DO, and PS; and (c) whether DO, PS, and sex predict ESE in a sample of 138 college seniors. The Barriers Self-Efficacy Scale, Revised Life Orientation Test, Perceived Stress Scale, and Stages of Exercise Change Questionnaire were used to assess the respective lines of inquiry. Between-groups analysis of variance, correlation, and standard multiple regression analyses were conducted to test each respective hypothesis. Results indicated (a) significant mean differences in ESE, DO, and PS for exercise maintainers; (b) large intercorrelations among ESE, DO, and PS; and (c) PS as the most significant correlate and the strongest predictor of ESE. Findings can be used to frame the college years as a transformative experience for indoctrinating the competency beliefs that underpin leadership potentials, internalizing perceived controllability over objectives, and engendering challenge-approach orientations—prerequisites for real-world adaptation and potential building blocks for positive social change.