Two experiments are reported that investigate the mediational role of social influence in the self-perception of exertion. In Experiment 1, subjects performed three 15-min trials on a cycle ergometer at 25%, 50%, and 75% VO2max, both in the presence of another performer (a coactor) and alone. The results indicated that subjects reported lower RPEs when performing with another, particularly at the moderate (50%) intensity. In Experiment 2, subjects performed one 15-min trial at 50% of VO2max, both alone and in the presence of another performer (coactor) exhibiting nonverbal "cues" that the work was either extremely easy or extremely difficult. The results indicated that subjects exposed to the low-intensity cue information reported lower RPEs than when performing alone. Mo significant differences were noted for those subjects exposed to the high-intensity cue information. These findings are discussed in terms of a self-presentational analysis. That such effects were evidenced without physiological responses (VO2, VE, HR) accompanying them supports the notion that psychological variables can play a significant role in the self-perception of exertion. These results, however, are limited to untrained individuals exercising at moderate intensities.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Charles J. Hardy, Dept. of Physical Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, ...MC 27514.