Motivation, Self-Efficacy and Weight Loss in a RCT Weight Loss Intervention

  • Alyssa Singer Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University
  • Charles Swencionis Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University
  • Christopher Cimino Albert Einstein College of Medicine


Background: Research on the relationship between motivation, and dieting and exercise self-efficacy, and weight loss has produced inconsistent findings. Thus, this study aims to explore and clarify the relationship between these constructs. 

Method: This study evaluated 429 participants who were part of a larger RCT. Participants were randomized into three groups of progressive, increasing intensity: workbook only, computer intervention and computer intervention plus staff. Weight and height were collected at baseline, 6 months and 12 months. Average initial body mass index (BMI) was 35.36. Participants also completed the Dieting Readiness Questionnaire, the Eating Habits Confidence Survey and the Exercise Confidence Survey at baseline. We hypothesized that motivation and self-efficacy would predict change in BMI regardless of group assignment.

Results: Factor analyses confirmed that each survey examined a unitary construct, yet Pearson’s product moment correlations found no significant relationship between change in BMI and motivation and self-efficacy surveys. Mean difference for change in BMI was significant for the highest intensity intervention group (M = -1.19, SE = .17) when compared to the lowest (M = -.37, SD = 2.44), F(2,426) = 3.79, p = .02). The majority of this overall change difference was further isolated to the first half of the study, F(2,426) = 6.91, p = .001.

Conclusion: Findings suggest initial motivation is less related to weight loss than is clinical support. It is unclear how self-efficacy fluctuated throughout the study; further evaluation may be necessary to utilize motivation and self-efficacy to enhance weight loss. 


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