Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Award/Availability

Open Access Thesis

Keywords

Exercise--Psychological aspects; Social norms--Psychological aspects; Feedback (Psychology);

Abstract

Nearly half of adults in the United States do not meet the recommended guidelines for both aerobic and strengthening activities despite the benefits of regular physical activity (National Center for Health Statistics, 2014; US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). The purpose of the current study was to test whether normative feedback (i.e., descriptive and descriptive plus injunctive norms) affects levels of physical activity. Participants wore a Fitbit Zip pedometer to record exercise behavior and received normative feedback messages sent to their mobile phones. Participants were 52 undergraduate students with a mean age of 18.66 (SD = 0.83); 27 participants were randomly assigned to the descriptive condition and 25 participants were assigned to the descriptive plus injunctive condition. Participants did not increase their number of steps from week one to week two of the study, suggesting that self-monitoring did not have a significant effect on participants’ physical activity. Participants below the norm, regardless of condition, did not increase their number of steps for week three and week four of the study after receiving the normative feedback, suggesting that the normative feedback did not have a significant effect on participants’ physical activity. Participants above the norm for weeks one and two in the descriptive norm condition did not decrease number of steps for week three and week four of the study after receiving the normative feedback. Participants in the descriptive plus injunctive norm condition did not take more steps than participants in the descriptive norm condition for week three and week four of the study, suggesting that there was not a difference between the two conditions after the normative feedback was delivered. The current study was underpowered and all conclusions are tentative; however, the current study was the first study to use both descriptive and injunctive norms in an attempt to experimentally manipulate physical activity. The current study also incorporated popular and inexpensive technology which could help make exercise interventions more accessible to a diverse population.

Date of Award

2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Nicholas Schwab, Chair

Date Original

2015

Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 112 pages)

Language

EN

Included in

Psychology Commons

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