Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Peterson, Ph.D., ABPP

Third Advisor

William Buhrow, PsyD


While college should be an ideal place for physical fitness behaviors to be supported through academic programming, access to exercise facilities and nutritional education, students are not engaging in the recommend daily physical fitness requirements (Gyurcsik, Johnson & Perrett, 2006). Studies examining the poor health behaviors of college students suggest there is a growing need for students to adopt lifelong fitness behaviors that are both sustainable and meet the recommended guidelines for health. Strong relationships have been found to positively influence exercise attitudes and behaviors (Feeny, 2000). The present study sought to examine a relationship between attachment style, parental modeling and peer influence and fitness behaviors in the college student population. The primary hypotheses were that college students who endorse a history of observing modeled fitness behaviors by their primary caregivers, have a secure attachment style in their close relationships and are positively influenced by peers to engage in exercise will demonstrate more regular engagement in fitness behaviors.

Participants in this study were enrolled in a Lifelong Fitness course as first year college students. A self-report measure of attachment and qualitative questions were distributed and completed by participants. Additionally, students were asked to meet regularly in assigned accountability groups and submit data demonstrating their physical activity, measured in number of steps taken, through an online portal. In contrast with previous research, the present study did not yield statistically significant results among secure attachment, observed parental modeling of fitness behaviors, peer influence, and fitness behaviors.