Self-Efficacy for Physical Activity—A Question of Item Framing and Age?

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Older adults process and remember positive information relatively better than negative information, compared with younger adults; this is known as the positivity effect. This study examined whether older adults compared with younger adults also respond differently to positively and negatively framed questionnaire items. Participants (N = 275; age = 18–81 years) were randomly assigned to a positively or negatively framed version of a self-efficacy for physical activity questionnaire. Self-efficacy, physical activity intentions, and planned physical activity in the following week were regressed on experimental group and age, controlling for baseline physical activity and covariates. A significant Age × Frame interaction showed that item framing made a difference in planned physical activity for the oldest age group (+350 min compared with the youngest group). This study provides initial support for the positivity effect in item framing on physical activity plans, but not on intentions or self-efficacy. Item framing should be taken into consideration for accurate measurement, but could also be a simple intervention approach.

Popp and Notthoff are with the Institut für Psychologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Notthoff is also with Sportwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. Warner is with Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and MSB Medical School Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Warner ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Material A (PDF 667 KB)
    • Supplementary Material B (PDF 443 KB)
    • Supplementary Material C (PDF 442 KB)
    • Supplementary Material D (PDF 439 KB)