Accessibility of Links between Behaviors and Outcomes: The Case of Physical Activity

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Birmingham
  • 2 University of St. Andrews
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Expectancy-value models of attitudes include belief statements about associated outcomes, with salient, accessible beliefs most important. This article reports two studies testing automatic accessibility of outcomes for physical activities using response latencies. A behavior presented by computer was followed 500 ms later by an outcome, such as more fit. Participants decided as quickly as possible whether the outcome was likely or unlikely (720 trials). We predicted shorter response latencies for accessible beliefs. Use of positive and negative outcomes (Study 1) produced a paradoxical slowing of response indicating deliberative processing. With only positive poles (Study 2), faster responses occurred for a priori links consistent with enhanced accessibility; some outcomes were accessible for some activities. Comparisons between explicitly reported beliefs and these implicit measures of accessibility revealed differences between the two measures. Discussion focuses on two possible routes to enhanced accessibility of attitudes, namely an explicit, cognitive process and an implicit, experiential process.

Eves is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom, and Hoppé is with the Department of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, United Kingdom.

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