UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Effects of an Affective Mental Contrasting Intervention on Physical Activity : A Randomized Controlled Trial Ruissen, Geralyn R.; Rhodes, Ryan E.; Crocker, Peter R. E. (Peter Ronald Earl); Beauchamp, Mark R. (Mark Robert), 1972-


Objective: University is a vulnerable period for discontinuing regular physical activity that can 2 have implications for students’ physical and psychological health. Accordingly, it is imperative 3 to find and implement cost and time-effective interventions to mitigate the consequences of this 4 transition. Intervention research has shown mental contrasting is an effective means of 5 promoting various health-enhancing behaviors including physical activity (Oettingen, 2012). 6 However, the efficacy of this intervention approach may be bolstered by targeting affective 7 judgements (e.g., enjoyable-unenjoyable), which exert greater influence on physical activity 8 behaviors compared to health-related instrumental judgements (e.g., useful-useless; Rhodes, 9 Fiala, & Conner, 2009). The purpose of this study was to compare the relative efficacy of a 10 mental contrasting intervention that targeted affective judgements associated with physical 11 activity, in relation to a mental contrasting intervention that targeted instrumental judgements, 12 and a ‘standard’ mental contrasting intervention (with no modifications). Method: Using a three-13 arm parallel randomized controlled trial design (ClinicalTrials.gov #: NCT02615821) 110 14 inactive, female, university students were randomly assigned to an affective, instrumental, or 15 standard mental contrasting intervention following simple randomization procedures. 16 Assessments were conducted at baseline and 4-weeks post intervention. Results: Participants in 17 the affective mental contrasting condition displayed higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous 18 physical activity (MVPA) than those in the instrumental or standard comparison conditions, F(2, 19 90) = 3.14, p < .05, ηp2 = 0.065. Conclusion: Overall, affective mental contrasting has the 20 potential to represent a low-cost and time-efficient intervention that may help inactive, female 21 students increase activity or attenuate declining levels of MVPA that occurs during university.

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