Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 180–204 | Cite as

A Review and Meta-Analysis of Affective Judgments and Physical Activity in Adult Populations

Original Article



Popular theories of health behavior have often been criticized for neglecting an affective component to behavioral engagement.


This study reviewed affective judgment (AJ) constructs employed in physical activity research to assess the relationship with behavior. Studies were eligible if they included: (a) a measure of physical activity; (b) a distinct measure of AJ (e.g., affective attitude, enjoyment, intrinsic motivation); and (c) involved participants with a mean age of 18 years or older.


Literature searches were concluded in September, 2009 among five key search engines. This search yielded a total of 10,631 potentially relevant records; of these, 102 passed the eligibility criteria. Random effects meta-analysis procedures with correction for sampling and measurement bias were employed in the analysis.


Articles were published between 1989 and 2009, with sample sizes ranging from 15 to 6,739. Of the studies included, 82 were correlational and 20 were experimental, yielding 114 independent samples. The majority of the correlational samples reported a significant positive correlation between AJ and physical activity (83 out of 85), with a summary r of 0.42 (95% CI 0.37 to 0.46) that was invariant across the measures employed, study quality, population sampled and cultural variables. Experimental studies demonstrated that persuasive, information-based, and self-regulatory interventions failed to change AJ; by contrast, environmental and experiential interventions showed promise in their capability to influence AJ.


The results point to a medium-effect size relationship between AJ and physical activity. Interventions that change AJ are scarce despite their potential for changing physical activity. Future experimental work designed to evaluate the causal impact of AJ on physical activity is required.


Affective attitude Exercise PACES Enjoyment Pleasure 

Supplementary material

12160_2009_9147_MOESM1_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Appendix A Studies of affective expectancies and physical activity, excluded studies (k = 61) (DOC 41 kb)
12160_2009_9147_MOESM2_ESM.doc (28 kb)
Appendix B Search syntax (DOC 28 kb)
12160_2009_9147_MOESM3_ESM.doc (183 kb)
Appendix C Data extraction, studies of affective expectations and physical activity (DOC 183 kb)
12160_2009_9147_MOESM4_ESM.doc (184 kb)
Appendix D Quality of correlational and experimental studies (DOC 184 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioural Medicine Laboratory, Faculty of EducationUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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