For health, wealth, or others: how the purpose for participating in a cycling task affects performance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aaron T. Piepmeier (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jennifer Etnier

Abstract: Increasing awareness of the myriad risk factors and dangers related to a sedentary lifestyle is not always a sufficient catalyst to motivate behavior change. Even with the knowledge of the health-related benefits, 51.2% of the U.S. population currently leads a lifestyle that is either sedentary or insufficient in physical activity. Researchers interested in understanding how to increase exercise behaviors may benefit from examining the role of motivation directly. In particular, recent behavioral research has illustrated a connection between the personal meaning of doing a task and the resultant performance of that task. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to explore the possible effects of the meaning/purpose for exercising on the self-selected duration of a cycling task. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three different treatment conditions (health, wealth, charity). Participants in each treatment condition watched a short video about the health benefits of exercise. Those in the health condition did not receive any additional information. Those in the wealth condition were informed that they would earn money for every two kilometers (KM) cycled. Those in the Charity condition were informed that they would earn money for a charity for every two KM cycled. Analyses using current physical activity as a covariate revealed that for total KM cycled there was a nearly significant difference between groups such that the wealth and charity groups cycled approximately two times as far as did the health group. The results for this sample thus suggest that immediate intrinsic or immediate extrinsic rewards may have a clinically meaningful effect on the number of KM cycled compared to delayed extrinsic rewards.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Charity, Exercise, Health Benefits, Meaning, Personal Payment
Motivation (Psychology) $x Testing
Exercise $x Psychological aspects

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