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Maria Newton, Ph.D.

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Academic Information

Departments: Health and Kinesiology - Associate Professor

Academic Office Information

After spending my youth moving all over the United States I received undergraduate degrees from the University of California, Davis in Art History and Kinesiology. Even though I loved art history I certainly did not have the wardrobe to be a museum curator so I ventured on to graduate school in sport psychology. I received my Masters degree at the California State University, Chico and went on to earn my PhD from Purdue University. I arrived at the University of Utah in 2000 after being on faculty at the University of New Orleans for seven years. Even though I love Utah I have a soft spot for New Orleans and return every year to support the people and culture of Louisiana. I enjoy teaching sport and exercise psychology, sociology of sport, motivation as well as mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. I am an avid reader, swimmer, hiker, golfer and tennis player.

Research Statement

We are a nation of non-movers. In trying to understand and optimize motivation I am trying to learn how to support people in their efforts to move more, whether it is on the court, in the mountains, or in the fitness facilities. My slice of the motivational pie focuses on the role of the setting. Goals and values permeate every setting (e.g., trying hard is valued; being the best if valued) and influence motivation. I am interested in understanding how the perceived setting influences motivation. I have spent time with colleagues expanding current understanding about the climate. We have written extensively about the importance and value of creating a physical activity climate in which people (potential movers) feel valued, respected, and welcomed. We have termed this climate a caring climate. Recently funded research has explored the influence of the caring climate in interscholastic sport and dance. We are excited about conducting intervention work in both sport and exercise