Elementary Physical Education: Cost is Personal and Social

  • Evelyn S. Chiang UNC Asheville
  • Kevin M. Riordan UNC Asheville
  • Melissa J. Himelein UNC Asheville
  • Ameena Batada UNC Asheville
  • Marcella L. Mulhollem
  • Miguel A. Padilla Old Dominion University



Although expectancy-value models of motivation have been applied to understanding children’s physical activity in a variety of contexts, the construct of cost has received relatively less attention. In the present study, perceived cost for engaging in mandatory physical education (P.E.) classes is explored. In particular, we examine different dimensions to cost as well as how cost may be related to children’s competence beliefs and values, perceived autonomy-support, and P.E. engagement.


Two hundred fifty-eight fifth-graders were surveyed in their P.E. classes. Children responded to items assessing cost, competence beliefs, intrinsic value, and attainment value for P.E., as well as perceived autonomy-support of the P.E. teacher.


Two distinct types of cost were identified through factor analysis: personal discomfort cost and social cost. Personal discomfort cost was negatively related to competence beliefs and values, engagement in P.E., and perceived autonomy-support.


Perceived cost appears to be a useful way to understand why some children may be less engaged in P.E. classes. P.E. teachers may be able to mitigate cost by engaging in tactics that are autonomy-supportive in nature, such as providing children with choices and rationales for activities.

Author Biographies

Kevin M. Riordan, UNC Asheville

Kevin Riordan is currently a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Melissa J. Himelein, UNC Asheville

Melissa Himelein is a professor in the Psychology department at UNC Asheville. 

Ameena Batada, UNC Asheville

Ameena Batada is a professor in the Health and Wellness department at UNC Asheville.

Marcella L. Mulhollem

Marcella Mulhollem is currently a graduate student at the University of Akron.

Miguel A. Padilla, Old Dominion University

Miguel Padilla is a professor in the Psychology department at Old Dominion University.

How to Cite
CHIANG, Evelyn S. et al. Elementary Physical Education: Cost is Personal and Social. Archives of Psychology, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 3, aug. 2020. ISSN 2573-7902. Available at: <https://www.archivesofpsychology.org/index.php/aop/article/view/143>. Date accessed: 04 june 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.31296/aop.v4i3.143.

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