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Reward Sensitivity Relates to Automatic Approach Motivation for Exercise: Preliminary Validity for the Exercise-Approach Avoidance Task
Current Issue
Volume 6, 2019
Issue 2 (March)
Pages: 24-28   |   Vol. 6, No. 2, March 2019   |   Follow on         
Paper in PDF Downloads: 49   Since Jun. 27, 2019 Views: 905   Since Jun. 27, 2019
Christine Nicole May, Department of Psychology, Springfield College, Springfield, USA.
James Juergensen, Department of Psychology, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, USA.
Sam Santich, Department of Exercise Science, Springfield College, Springfield, USA.
Only about half (49.9%) of US college students met the physical activity recommendations set forth by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Most assessment and intervention methods use explicit behavior (e.g., self-reported physical activity) and neglect the salient role of implicit motives. There is a need for novel implicit methods for increasing physical activity. Previous research has used the Approach Avoidance Task (AAT) to measure implicit approach motivation for various objects, including desserts, alcohol, and spiders. People are quicker to approach to appetitive stimuli (e.g., desserts) and avoid fearful stimuli (e.g., spiders). We explored the validity of an adapted version of the AAT, the Exercise-AAT, by assessing the relationship between responsiveness to rewards/punishments (BIS/BAS) and responses on the Exercise-AAT. Forty-nine undergraduate students from a public, Midwestern university participated in this study. We conducted Pearson correlations to examine the relationship between BIS/BAS and relative approach motivation for exercise images (AppMot). BAS Reward Responsiveness and BAS Drive were not significantly related to AppMot (ps >.23). However, BAS Fun-Seeking was significantly and positively correlated with AppMot, r (47) = .28, p = .026. These results support previous research using the Dessert-AAT (D-AAT), which showed that BAS Fun-Seeking was significantly and positively related to implicit approach motivation for dessert images. The significant, positive relationship between BAS Fun-Seeking and relative approach motivation for exercise images in this study provides preliminary evidence for the validity of the Exercise-AAT. We discuss future treatment implications for individuals whose health would benefit from an increase in exercise.
Approach, Avoidance, BAS, Reward, Exercise, Motivation, AAT
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