The effects of self-efficacy, social physique anxiety, attributions, and feelings of mastery on post-exercise psychological state
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It is well known that acute bouts of exercise are sufficient to improve psychological state. However, a number of different hypotheses exist to explain these changes with little consensus regarding a single mechanism to explain the effects. The mastery hypothesis postulates that the successful completion of an effortful task, such as exercise, results in a feeling of accomplishment or mastery, and those feelings of mastery produce improved psychological states, particularly for those tasks that are considered important to the individual. Thus, the exercise-induced improvement in psychological state will be maximized in those individuals with positive assessments of performance. In addition, given the nature of the environment, dispositional traits like self-efficacy and social physique anxiety will likely impact feelings of mastery. Data was collected in two exercise environments differing in both structure and format in order to maximize differences and create a stronger test of the mastery hypothesis. Overall, social physique anxiety and self-efficacy had little effect on the relationship between mastery and the resulting post-exercise psychological state. Path analysis supported the viability of the mastery hypothesis as a mechanism to explain the differences in psychological response to exercise. In both exercise conditions, all exercisers reported significant reductions in negatively valenced states, like negative affect and psychological distress. However, high mastery individuals in both conditions experienced significantly greater increases in positively valenced states, like positive affect and positive well-being, compared to the low mastery individuals. However, differences between conditions existed for attributions suggestions that the exercise environment my influence ones belief about their exercise. Participants in the aerobics condition exhibited a larger self-serving bias, which may be due to the environment of the class being more of an achievement situation than the cardiovascular & weight training class. Even though attributional differences existed, the differences had no effect on the resulting mood.