Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Affective Responses to an Aerobic Dance Class: The Impact of Perceived Performance. (Psychology)

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Affective Responses to an Aerobic Dance Class: The Impact of Perceived Performance. (Psychology)

Article excerpt

The current study tests the mastery hypothesis as an explanation for the affective benefits of acute exercise. Participants were 204 undergraduate women who were participating in self-selected aerobic dance classes. Following the class, participants were ashed to rate their exercise performance on a 5-point, Likert-type scale. Affect questionnaires were completed prior to and at 5 and 20 mm following the aerobic dance class. Results indicated an overall improvement in affect following exercise. Negative valenced subscales were unaffected by performance ratings. Both groups showed similar reductions in these states. There was, however, a significant Group x Time interaction for the positive valenced subscales. High-performance participants reported greater increase in these variables throughout recovery than did low-performance participants. These data support the mastery hypothesis as an explanation for the exercise-induced change in positive affective states.

Key words: AD-ACL, exercise, mastery hypothesis, PANAS

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It is well known that acute bouts of aerobic exercise are sufficient to improve the psychological state. Thayer (1987) found that a rapid walk as short as 10 mi was associated with a significant increase in energy and decrease in tension for as long as 2 hr following the walk. These effects appear to generalize to group exercise situations as well. Individuals reported reduced tension, anger, depression, and fatigue, along with increased vigor, following a step aerobics class (Kennedy & Newton, 1997). Likewise, 163 female undergraduates enrolled in aerobic dance classes reported a postexercise increase in positive well being along with lessened psychological distress and fatigue (Lox & Rudolph, 1995). Last, this effect does not appear to be dependent on exercise intensity. Both high- and low-intensity aerobic dance has resulted in increased positive and decreased negative mood states (Choi, Van Horn, Picker, & Roberts, 1993).

Although the pattern of postexercise psychological states is generally well understood, there is little consensus on a mechanism to explain these effects. A possible mechanism to explain these effects is the mastery hypothesis (Yeung, 1996). This theory is based on the hypothesis that successfully completing an effortful task, such as exercise, results in a feeling of accomplishment or mastery. Mastery experiences are expected to produce improved psychological states, particularly for those tasks the individual considers important. Thus, according to this theory, the exercise-induced improvement in psychological state will be maximized in those individuals with positive assessments of their performance. Implicit in the mastery hypothesis is the role of individual perceptions of success. Vallerand (1987) discussed the importance of appraisal and cognitive processing in sport activities when explaining meaningful events and their resulting self-related affects. For example, high school basketball players compl eted a questionnaire designed to measure their subjective performance appraisal, attributions, and affects. Results supported the notion that intuitive performance appraisal is superior to objective outcome as a predictor of postcompetition affect. Likewise, McAuley and Duncan (1989) argued that objective outcome is not the sole driver of affect and that interpretation of the outcome is also important. This was demonstrated by examining the effect of disconfirmed expectations on affect following competition on a cycle ergometer. Although losers reported lower affect than winners, the experience of an unexpected loss produced a greater disruption in affect than an expected loss (McAuley & Duncan, 1989).

Despite its intuitive appeal, as well as its success as an explanation for sport-related affect, there has been relatively little research that specifically tested the role of exercise-related mastery experiences on psychological state. …

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