Date of Award

6-1987

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Edward Heinig

Abstract

Though investigative studies have identified the many benefits of aerobic exercise for both biological and behavioral health, only a small percentage of individuals maintain regular exercise. Team or group exercise programs report higher participation rates, but studies of individually prescribed exercise programs typically report problems of compliance and attrition. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of various interventions--including the provision of course bonus points, cash lottery, and partner assignment--designed to increase exercise compliance among college students. Thirty-two student volunteers reporting "no current exercise" were randomly assigned to either the "partner" or the "individual" exercise group. Subjects in the partner group were then assigned an exercise companion determined to be their best match, based on similar exercise objectives, comparable physical fitness levels, and shared personal and professional interests. Members of both experimental groups were able to earn up to five bonus points and have their names entered into a $20.00 cash lottery for exercising. A multiple baseline design was employed to compare the exercise frequency and attrition rates across subjects and groups. Course bonus points combined with a lottery was an effective intervention: 78\% of the students from the combined partner and individual groups began to exercise, after a self-reported baseline of no exercise. Although not independent of one another nor statistically significant, each evaluative measure favored the partner intervention. Fewer members of the partner group were lost to attrition; consequently the partners earned more exercise points overall. Also, of the subjects remaining in the program, 57% of the partner group reached 100% compliance by exercising at the maximum frequency necessary to earn all of the possible points, in contrast to only 18% compliance by the members of the individual group. The need for structured incentives and social reinforcement for aerobic exercise was reviewed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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