Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 151–159 | Cite as

Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect

  • Brandon C. IrwinEmail author
  • Jennifer Scorniaenchi
  • Norbert L. Kerr
  • Joey C. Eisenmann
  • Deborah L. Feltz
Original Article



A key barrier to achieving recommended intensity and duration of physical activity is motivation.


We investigated whether a virtually present partner would influence participants’ motivation (duration) during aerobic exercise.


Fifty-eight females (M age = 20.54 ± 1.86) were randomly assigned to either a coactive condition (exercising alongside another person, independently), a conjunctive condition (performance determined by whichever partner stops exercising first) where they exercised with a superior partner, or to an individual condition. Participants exercised on a stationary bike at 65 % of heart rate reserve on six separate days.


Across sessions, conjunctive condition participants exercised significantly longer (M = 21.89 min, SD = ±10.08 min) than those in coactive (M = 19.77 min, SD = ± 9.00 min) and individual (M = 10.6 min, SD = ±5.84 min) conditions (p < 0.05).


Exercising with a virtually present partner can improve performance on an aerobic exercise task across multiple sessions.


Group performance Group exercise Exergame Köhler effect Motivation Exercise partner 



The authors wish to thank Sara Sherman and Kaitlynn Osborn and for their contributions in the execution of this study. All human studies have been approved by the MSU IRB and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brandon C. Irwin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Scorniaenchi
    • 1
  • Norbert L. Kerr
    • 1
  • Joey C. Eisenmann
    • 1
  • Deborah L. Feltz
    • 1
  1. 1.KinesiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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