Chapter 05

1. Make three copies of the social support scale shown in Exhibit 5.1. Complete the first copy of the scale by following the instructions printed at the top of the exhibit. Next, reflect on your own childhood and complete the second copy of the social support scale as if you were a 10- to 12-year-old. Finally, think about an elderly friend or relative and complete the third copy of the scale as you think an older adult might. For each copy of the questionnaire, tally the average score for each type of support across the three sources. Do you see any differences in the types of support that are given to people of different ages? Do these differences reflect changes in our needs for certain types of support over time? Are some sources more likely to give support to a younger than to an older person? What might account for changes in the amount of support we get from different sources over time?

2. Imagine that you are in charge of 50 students living in a college residence. You have been asked to develop a “Get Fit, Stay Active” program for these students. Given what you now know about social influences and physical activity, devise a plan to use social influence to get your students physically active.

3. Test the social influence effects of co-exercisers. In a quiet part of a gym, ask 10 classmates to perform as many sit-ups as they can in a 60-second period. Be sure that each person performs the task without anyone else observing. After all 10 people have completed the task, calculate the average number of sit-ups performed, but do not tell this number to your classmates. Now, ask 10 additional classmates to do the 60-second sit-up task all together, in a group. Calculate the average number of sit-ups that members of this group performed. Is there a difference in the two results?

4. Choose a group of health care providers (e.g., physiotherapists, physician assistants, physical therapists, midwives, pharmacists) and develop a plan to help them become more frequent promoters of physical activity. Check out the Exercise Is Medicine program, managed by the American College of Sports Medicine, at for some ideas and examples of resources that could be used to facilitate physical activity counseling.