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Parminder K. Flora, Shaelyn M. Strachan, Lawrence R. Brawley and Kevin S. Spink

Research on exercise identity (EXID) indicates that it is related to negative affect when exercisers are inconsistent or relapse. Although identity theory suggests that causal attributions about this inconsistency elicit negative self-conscious emotions of shame and guilt, no EXID studies have examined this for exercise relapse. Weiner’s attribution-based theory of interpersonal motivation (2010) offers a means of testing the attribution-emotion link. Using both frameworks, we examined whether EXID and attributional properties predicted negative emotions for exercise relapse. Participants (n = 224) read an exercise relapse vignette, and then completed EXID, attributions, and emotion measures. Hierarchical multiple regression models using EXID and the attributional property of controllability significantly predicted each of shame and guilt, R 2 adjusted = .09, ps ≤ .001. Results support identity theory suggestions and Weiner’s specific attribution-emotion hypothesis. This first demonstration of an interlinking of EXID, controllability, and negative self-conscious emotions offers more predictive utility using complementary theories than either theory alone.