Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Dr. Steve Wininger (Director), Dr. Richard Greer, Dr. Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence
Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
Along with the numerous physical benefits of exercise, past research has shown that physical activity can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Yet, it has been suggested less than half of American adults exercise at public health recommended levels. Therefore, it is important to identify factors that may lead to an increase in physical activity and, subsequently, improvements in mental health. Previous research, for the most part, has neglected to investigate how preference for attentional focus strategy during exercise influences mood. In addition, previous studies that involved attentional focus and exercise have focused more on participant’s resulting performance than affect. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether or not preference for attentional focus strategy would moderate the amount of affective change and enjoyment experienced during and after exercise.
Participants (N=100) were recruited from psychology courses at Western Kentucky University. They were asked to run on a treadmill for 20 minutes on two separate days, one week apart. On one of the days they were asked to engage in their most preferred attentional focus strategy and another day their least preferred attentional focus strategy. The order of these sessions was counterbalanced. Participant’s preference for attentional focus strategies was used as an independent variable. The first dependent variable of interest was changes in affect, measured by the Activation-Deactivation Adjective Checklist (AD-ACL). The second dependent variable of interest was enjoyment, measured by the interest/enjoyment subscale of the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI).
A 2 (Preference Condition) X 4 (Time) ANOVA was conducted for affect. There were no significant main effects and no significant interactions for preference. Yet, there was a significant change in affect across time. A one way ANOVA was conducted on enjoyment and autonomy levels. There were no significant main effects for preference.
Results of the study indicated preference for attentional focus strategy does not influence the level of affective benefits typically associated with exercise, nor does it influence perceived enjoyment and autonomy. In addition, the study indicated individuals acquire affective benefits from engaging in moderate intensity exercise regardless of attentional focus strategy. Following from the findings of the current study, it is suggested that researchers continue to identify factors of the exercise experience that may lead to an increase in physical activity and, subsequently, improvements in mental health.
Health Psychology | Other Mental and Social Health | Psychology
Heltsley, Erin L., "The Influence of Preferred Attentional Focus Strategies on Exercise Induced Changes in Affect" (2008). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 2.