The goal of the present paper is to propose a model for the study of automatic cognition and affect in exercise. We have chosen a dual-system approach to social information processing to investigate the hypothesis that situated decisions between behavioral alternatives form a functional link between automatic and reflective evaluations and the time spent on exercise. A new questionnaire is introduced to operationalize this link. A reaction-time–based evaluative priming task was used to test participants’ automatic evaluations. Affective and cognitive reflective evaluations, as well as exercising time, were requested via self-report. Path analyses suggest that the affective reflective (beta = .71) and the automatic evaluation (beta = .15) independently explain situated decisions, which, in turn (beta = .60) explain time spent on exercise. Our findings highlight the concept of contextualized decisions. They can serve as a starting point from which the so far seldom investigations of automatic cognition and affect in exercise can be integrated with multitudinous results from studies on reflective psychological determinants of health behavior.
Franziska Antoniewicz and Ralf Brand
The goals of this study were to test whether exercise-related stimuli can elicit automatic evaluative responses and whether automatic evaluations reflect exercise setting preference in highly active exercisers. An adapted version of the Affect Misattribution Procedure was employed. Seventy-two highly active exercisers (26 years ± 9.03; 43% female) were subliminally primed (7 ms) with pictures depicting typical fitness center scenarios or gray rectangles (control primes). After each prime, participants consciously evaluated the “pleasantness” of a Chinese symbol. Controlled evaluations were measured with a questionnaire and were more positive in participants who regularly visited fitness centers than in those who reported avoiding this exercise setting. Only center exercisers gave automatic positive evaluations of the fitness center setting (partial eta squared = .08). It is proposed that a subliminal Affect Misattribution Procedure paradigm can detect automatic evaluations to exercising and that, in highly active exercisers, these evaluations play a role in decisions about the exercise setting rather than the amounts of physical exercise. Findings are interpreted in terms of a dual systems theory of social information processing and behavior.
Franziska Antoniewicz and Ralf Brand
This multistudy report used an experimental approach to alter automatic evaluations of exercise (AEE). First, we investigated the plasticity of AEE (study 1). A computerized evaluative conditioning task was developed that altered the AEE of participants in two experimental groups (acquisition of positive/negative associations involving exercising) and a control group (ηpart. 2 = .11). Second, we examined connections between changes in AEE and subsequent exercise behavior (chosen intensity on a bike ergometer; study 2) in individuals that were placed in groups according to their baseline AEE. Group differences in exercise behavior were detected (ηpart. 2 = .29). The effect was driven by the performance of the group with preexisting negative AEE that acquired more positive associations. This illustrates the effect of altered AEE on subsequent exercise behavior and the potential of AEE as a target for exercise intervention.
Ralf Brand and Franziska Antoniewicz
Sometimes our automatic evaluations do not correspond well with those we can reflect on and articulate. We present a novel approach to the assessment of automatic and reflective affective evaluations of exercising. Based on the assumptions of the associative-propositional processes in evaluation model, we measured participants’ automatic evaluations of exercise and then shared this information with them, asked them to reflect on it and rate eventual discrepancy between their reflective evaluation and the assessment of their automatic evaluation. We found that mismatch between self-reported ideal exercise frequency and actual exercise frequency over the previous 14 weeks could be regressed on the discrepancy between a relatively negative automatic and a more positive reflective evaluation. This study illustrates the potential of a dual-process approach to the measurement of evaluative responses and suggests that mistrusting one’s negative spontaneous reaction to exercise and asserting a very positive reflective evaluation instead leads to the adoption of inflated exercise goals.
Anne-Marie Elbe and Ralf Brand
Urine doping controls have become a regular part of athletes’ lives, and approximately one half of all athletes suffer at least once from urination difficulties during these tests. Previous studies could not satisfactorily explain why athletes are affected. This paper examines the relation between urination difficulties during doping controls and psychological reactance. It is assumed that psychological reactance is positively correlated to urination difficulties. The results are based on a study involving 187 German-speaking athletes participating in elite sports at the national team level. In addition to demographic data and information about doping controls, the Psychogenic Urine Retention during Doping Controls Scale (PURDS) and Therapeutic Reactance Scale (TRS) were used. The results do not confirm our hypothesis and indicate that reactance correlates negatively rather than positively to urination difficulties during doping controls. The results are surprising as they suggest that athletes who show low oppositional potential toward doping rules are most strongly affected. Suggestions for interventions are given.
Martina Kanning, Ulrich Ebner-Priemer, and Ralf Brand
Studies have shown that physical activity influences affective states. However, studies have seldom depicted these associations in ongoing real-life situations, and there is no investigation showing that motivational states (i.e., more or less autonomously regulated) would moderate these effects in situ. To investigate the interaction of autonomous regulation and actual physical activity (aPA) with affective states, we use an ambulatory assessment approach. The participants were 44 university students (mean age: 26.2 ± 3.2 years). We assessed aPA through 24-hr accelerometry and affective states and autonomous regulation via electronic diaries. Palmtop devices prompted subjects every 45 min during a 14-hr daytime period. We performed hierarchical multilevel analyses. Both aPA and autonomous regulation significantly influenced affective states. The interaction was significant for two affects. The higher the volume of aPA and thereby the more autonomously regulated the preceding bout of aPA was, the more our participants felt energized (r = .16) but agitated (r = −.18).
Matthias Bluemke, Ralf Brand, Geoffrey Schweizer, and Daniela Kahlert
Models employed in exercise psychology highlight the role of reflective processes for explaining behavior change. However, as discussed in social cognition literature, information-processing models also consider automatic processes (dual-process models). To examine the relevance of automatic processing in exercise psychology, we used a priming task to assess the automatic evaluations of exercise stimuli in physically active sport and exercise majors (n = 32), physically active nonsport majors (n = 31), and inactive students (n = 31). Results showed that physically active students responded faster to positive words after exercise primes, whereas inactive students responded more rapidly to negative words. Priming task reaction times were successfully used to predict reported amounts of exercise in an ordinal regression model. Findings were obtained only with experiential items reflecting negative and positive consequences of exercise. The results illustrate the potential importance of dual-process models in exercise psychology.
Ralf Brand, Gerhard Schmidt, and Yvonne Schneeloch
In a study on penalty decisions in soccer, Plessner and Betsch (2001) refer to a social cognition framework and demonstrate that referees’ initial decisions exert an undesirable impact on later decisions. Mascarenhas, Collins, and Mortimer (2002) criticize this work for an error in the attribution of its findings. In their view, the referees’ efforts to manage games by permanently adjusting decisions to the actual flow of a game have been underestimated. In the present experiment, 113 elite (i.e., first and second league) basketball referees made decisions on videotaped contact situations. These were presented either in their original game sequence or as random successions of individual scenes. Results showed that referees in the condition with the removed sequential context awarded more rigorous sanctions than their colleagues. Findings are interpreted as an instance of empirical evidence for what Mascarenhas et al. (2002) have described as game management. It is argued that the idea of game management should be modeled and further explored within the theoretical concept of social information processing.