The two most important aspects of this decision-making process were developing social relationships and the acquisition of social validation (Tiano, 2007). The results of the study indicate that the external environment and social needs drive the majority of sports recreation decisions where self-concept is developed as a product of peer group influence. Building a more positive social network, rather than merely experiencing improved physical fitness, is the essence of sports involvement. However, why is this? Abraham Maslow, a respected behavioural psychologist, developed a motivational hierarchy that describes a series bottom-up tiers by which an individual evolves in order to maximise their personal growth and development.
These include basic needs at the physiological level, followed by safety needs, and an escalation to mid-tier needs that include establishing a sense of social belonging (Maslow, 1997). It is theorised under this psychological model that all tiers leading toward self-actualisation (the final realisation of self-fulfilment) must be experienced in sequential order as lower needs are satisfied. Belonging to this model include affection and relationship-development, along with appreciation or even self-concepts toward beauty aesthetics.
The model indicates these to be universal concepts in the human behavioural needs cycle and will be found within all individuals in a society. With this foundational model in mind, it is not necessarily a revelation that youths and adults decide to engage in sports recreation in the process of attempting to reach their fullest potential as humans with a self-actualised, self-fulfilled desire for growth and self-improvement. The search for belonging and positive regard from others is what shapes self-concept, thus sporting activities where group affiliation is commonplace provide an ideal environment for the satisfaction of basic human needs and desires. Youths that engage in sports recreation would then find, under Maslow’ s philosophy of needs fulfilment, a more positive sense of the self and identity development through group exercises such as sports.
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