Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dean Cruess, Ph.D; Theodore Powers, Ph.D

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Weight-related health behavior change can be difficult to initiate, and perhaps even more challenging to sustain long-term. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) allows for a more nuanced exploration of the role that motivation and existing support systems play in weight management. Recently, studies have focused on coequal support relationships rather than hierarchical relationships in health behavior change. The present study used a longitudinal design to assess support style (needs support vs. directive), relationship satisfaction, motivation (autonomous versus controlled), and weight loss over a 6-week period in college students with overweight or obesity, using a SDT framework. Students enrolled in Introduction to Psychology who endorsed a desire to pursue a weight-related health behavior change goal and availability of a support partner, completed baseline anthropometrics and SDT-based questionnaires (N =50, 25% male, 67.3% Caucasian, 18.8 ±1.2 years, 28.6 ± 4.2 kg/m2 ). Average weight change in the program was small but significantly less than published population weight gain estimates (M = - 0.01 lbs. ± 4.1; (t(49) = 13.4, p

Major Advisor

Amy Gorin, Ph.D