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.
Franziska Antoniewicz and Ralf Brand
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.
Amanda L. Hyde, Steriani Elavsky, Shawna E. Doerksen and David E. Conroy
Accumulating research indicates that physical activity is motivated by automatic evaluations of physical activity. Little is known about the stability of automatic evaluations or how their dynamics impact physical activity. We tested the measurement invariance and stability of university students’ (N = 164) automatic evaluations of physical activity. In addition, multiple regression and structural equation models with latent interaction variables were used to investigate how changes in automatic evaluations related to change in self-reported physical activity and differences in the level of directly measured physical activity. It was revealed that automatic evaluations had strict measurement invariance and that automatic evaluations have both stable and unstable components. People whose unfavorable automatic evaluations became more favorable over the week showed a larger increase in self-reported physical activity from the previous week than did people whose automatic evaluations remained unfavorable. These results indicated that the dynamics of automatic evaluations and physical activity can be intertwined.
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.
Ralf Brand and Geoffrey Schweizer
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.
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.
Zachary Zenko and Panteleimon Ekkekakis
. , & Vézina-Im , L.-A. ( 2013 ). Determinants of physical activity maintenance: A systematic review and meta-analyses . Health Psychology Review, 7 , 55 – 91 . doi:10.1080/17437199.2012.701060 10.1080/17437199.2012.701060 Antoniewicz , F. , & Brand , R. ( 2014 ). Automatic evaluations and
Tanya R. Berry, Wendy M. Rodgers, Alison Divine and Craig Hall
, but not the discrepancy between them, significantly predicted the actual number of times participants visited a fitness center over 14 weeks. High sum scores should reflect strong automatic evaluations that appearance is desirable, and thus influence the expectation that appearance will be positively
Avelina C. Padin, Charles F. Emery, Michael Vasey and Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser
.psychsport.2010.04.008 Hyde , A.L. , Elavsky , S. , Doerksen , S.E. , & Conroy , D.E. ( 2012 ). The stability of automatic evaluations of physical activity and their relations with physical activity . Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34 ( 6 ), 715 – 736 . PubMed doi:10.1123/jsep.34.6.715 10