In promoting physical activity, it is important to gain insight into environmental factors that facilitate or hinder physical activity and factors that may influence this environment–behavior relationship. As the personality factor of action orientation reflects an individual’s capacity to regulate behavior it may act as a moderator in the environment–behavior relationship. The current study addressed the relationship between neighborhood walkability and walking behavior and the influence of action orientation on this relationship.
Three hundred and forty-seven Dutch inhabitants [mean age 43.1 (SD 17.1)] completed a web based questionnaire assessing demographic variables, neighborhood walkability (Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale), variables of the Theory of Planned Behavior, action orientation, and walking behavior.
The results show that high levels of neighborhood walkability are positively associated with walking behavior and that this influence is largely unmediated by cognitive processes. A positive influence of neighborhood walkability on walking behavior was identified in the action-oriented subpopulation, whereas in the state-oriented part of the population, this influence was absent.
The findings suggest that the influence of neighborhood environment on walking behavior has a relatively large unconscious, automatic component. In addition, the results suggest that the walkability–walking relationship is moderated by action orientation.