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Exercise goal acknowledgment and its effects on short-term exercise




Heidrick, Charles, author
Graham, Daniel, advisor
Butki, Brian, committee member
Rickard, Kathryn, committee member

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Regular physical activity has been shown to have substantial physical and mental benefits, ranging from protection against obesity to greater quality of life (Harvard School of Public Health, 2014; Faulkner & Taylor, 2005). Yet, a low percentage of people in the United States meet recommended levels of physical activity (Troiano et al., 2008). Goal setting has been shown to be an effective way to improve behavior (Locke & Latham, 1990; Latham & Budworth, 2006), but may be impacted by underexplored social factors. This study examined the role that another person, apart from the goal-setting exerciser, can have on physical activity goal pursuit. College students (n = 143) participated in a controlled experiment. A researcher demonstrated four exercises (push-ups, planks, jumping jacks, and single-leg balancing), after which participants set personal goals regarding their own imminent performance of these exercises. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) private goals: participants set goals and did not share them with experimenter; 2) acknowledged goals: participants' goals were positively acknowledged by experimenter; 3) unacknowledged goals: participants gave their goals to an experimenter who did not provide acknowledgment. A significant effect of condition on performance and goal attainment was seen for planks and a significant effect of condition on goal attainment was seen for pushups. No significant effects were seen for jumping jacks or balancing. Results indicate positive effects of goal acknowledgment on subsequent goal attainment and exercise performance and also suggest negative effects of having goals that could be acknowledged go unacknowledged.


Includes bibliographical references.
2015 Fall.

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physical activity


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