Multidimensional Scaling and Preference Mapping: Promising Methods for Investigating Older Adults’ Physical Activity Perceptions and Preferences

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Research on older adult physical activity promotion has lacked methods to measure older adults’ physical activity perceptions and preferences. This article describes perceptual and preference-mapping marketing techniques for investigating perceived features in physical activities. Using these techniques, investigators can represent the dimensions in which older adults perceive physical activity modes, label them, and consider individual differences. In this study, older adults compared 13 physical activities and ranked them by preference. A 4-dimensional space satisfactorily represented perceptions, and a 3-dimensional space, preferences. Physical activity perceptions varied along orthogonal dimensions of health affordance. intensity, social nature, and competitive nature. Categories of preference were revealed as dimensions relating to noncompetitive/self-efficacy attributes, intensity, and gender practices. The authors conclude that older adults’ physical activity preferences and perceptions can be represented by multiattribute dimensional spaces. Future research should employ these scaling techniques to describe relationships between older adults and multiattribute physical activities and determine how they influence perceptions, preferences, and physical activity patterns.

Luke E. Patrick is with the Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations at the University of Iowa. Iowa City, IA 52242. David A. Dzewaltowski is with the Department of Kinesiology at Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

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