Section: Neuroscience
Topic: Neuroscience

Automatic approach-avoidance tendency toward physical activity, sedentary, and neutral stimuli as a function of age, explicit affective attitude, and intention to be active

10.24072/pcjournal.246 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e21.

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Using computerized reaction-time tasks assessing automatic attitudes, studies have shown that healthy young adults have faster reaction times when approaching physical activity stimuli than when avoiding them. The opposite has been observed for sedentary stimuli. However, it is unclear whether these results hold across the lifespan and when error rates and a possible generic approach-avoidance tendency are accounted for. Here, reaction times and errors in online approach-avoidance tasks of 130 participants aged 21 to 77 years were analyzed using mixed-effects models. Automatic approach-avoidance tendencies were tested using physical activity, sedentary, and neutral stimuli. Explicit attitudes toward physical activity and intention to be physically active were self-reported. Results accounting for age, sex, gender, level of physical activity, body mass index, and chronic health condition confirmed a main tendency to approach physical activity stimuli (i.e., faster reaction to approach vs. avoid; p = .001) and to avoid sedentary stimuli (i.e., faster reaction to avoid vs. approach; p < .001). Results based on neutral stimuli revealed a generic approach tendency in early adulthood (i.e., faster approach before age 53 and fewer errors before age 36) and a generic avoidance tendency in older adults (i.e., more errors after age 60). When accounting for these generic tendencies, results showed a greater tendency (i.e., fewer errors) to avoid than approach sedentary stimuli after aged 50, but not before (p = .026). Exploratory analyses showed that irrespective of age, participants were faster at approaching physical activity (p = .028) and avoiding sedentary stimuli (p = .041) when they considered physical activity as pleasant and enjoyable (explicit attitude). However, results showed no evidence of an association between approach-avoidance tendencies and the intention to be physically active. Taken together, these results suggest that both age and explicit attitudes can affect the general tendency to approach physical activity stimuli and to avoid sedentary stimuli.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.246
Type: Research article
Keywords: Aging, Attitude, Exercise, Geriatrics, Health, Humans, Intention, Motor Control, Personality, Reaction Time, Sedentary Behavior
Farajzadeh, Ata 1, 2; Goubran, Miriam 1, 2; Beehler, Alexa 1; Cherkaoui, Noura 1; Morrison, Paula 1; de Chanaleilles, Margaux 3; Maltagliati, Silvio 3; Cheval, Boris 4, 5; Miller, Matthew W. 6, 7; Sheehy, Lisa 2; Bilodeau, Martin 1, 2; Orsholits, Dan 8, 9; Boisgontier, Matthieu P. 1, 2

1 School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada
2 Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
3 Laboratory Sport and Social Environment (SENS), Université Grenoble Alpes, France
4 Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
5 Laboratory for the Study of Emotion Elicitation and Expression (E3Lab), Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Switzerland
6 School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, USA
7 Center for Neuroscience, Auburn University, USA
8 Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Gerontology and Vulnerability, University of Geneva, Switzerland
9 Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES—Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives, Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
@article{10_24072_pcjournal_246,
     author = {Farajzadeh, Ata and Goubran, Miriam and Beehler, Alexa and Cherkaoui, Noura and Morrison, Paula and de Chanaleilles, Margaux and Maltagliati, Silvio and Cheval, Boris and Miller, Matthew W. and Sheehy, Lisa and Bilodeau, Martin and Orsholits, Dan and Boisgontier, Matthieu P.},
     title = {Automatic approach-avoidance tendency toward physical activity, sedentary, and neutral stimuli as a function of age, explicit affective attitude, and intention to be active},
     journal = {Peer Community Journal},
     eid = {e21},
     publisher = {Peer Community In},
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     year = {2023},
     doi = {10.24072/pcjournal.246},
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}
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Farajzadeh, Ata; Goubran, Miriam; Beehler, Alexa; Cherkaoui, Noura; Morrison, Paula; de Chanaleilles, Margaux; Maltagliati, Silvio; Cheval, Boris; Miller, Matthew W.; Sheehy, Lisa; Bilodeau, Martin; Orsholits, Dan; Boisgontier, Matthieu P. Automatic approach-avoidance tendency toward physical activity, sedentary, and neutral stimuli as a function of age, explicit affective attitude, and intention to be active. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e21. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.246. https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.246/

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.neuro.100138

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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