“Every child is a winner”: Developing competence that promotes lifelong engagement in physical activity?

01 October 2017 → 31 August 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
physical activity
Project description

Physical inactivity is one of the leading health risk behaviors related to the global obesity epidemic

and chronic diseases such as diabetes. The number of inactive children is discouraging, and many

professionals search for effective ways to stimulate children’ enduring participation in physical

activity. This has recently led to a gradual yet well established shift (especially in the US) in culture

in the area of youth sports and physical activity, illustrated by widespread initiatives such as “very

child is a winner” Children participating in organized physical activities are all treated as laureates,

often showered with compliments and a participation-medal, regardless of their actual

performance or competence. Although children will probably enjoy their moment in the spotlight,

the question arises whether it is truly beneficial for children to think they may become a future

Olympic champion, even if they have in fact a low motor competence (and thus overestimate


This project aims at 1) examining the relationships between overestimation of personal motor

competence and engagement in physical activity in American and Flemish children, and 2)

disentangling the underlying mechanisms (e.g., narcissism) and contextual precursors (e.g.,

feedback) that lead to overestimation. These insights will allow to understand if and why

strategies that are used to boost children’ perceived competence, are more or less effective to

promote engagement in physical activity.