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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Chandrashekhar Y, Anand IS. Exercise as a coronary protective factor. Am Heart J. Dec 1991;122(6):1723–39.
Jennings GL, Deakin G, Dewar E, Jaufer E, Nelson LS. Exercise, cardiovascular disease and blood pressure. Clin Exp Hypertens. 1989;11:1035–52.
Lee IM. Physical activity, fitness, and cancer. In: Boucher C, Shephard RJ, Stephens T, eds. Physical activity, fitness, and health: International proceedings and consensus statement. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 1994:814–31.
Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Prescribing exercise as preventive therapy. CMAJ. Mar 28 2006;174(7):961–74.
Smith SC, Blair SN, Criqui MH, Fletcher GF, Fuster V, Gersh BJ, et al. Preventing heart attack and death in patients with coronary disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. Jul 1995;26(1):292–4.
Hardy CJ, Rejeski WJ. Not what, but how one feels: The measurement of affect during exercise. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 1989;11:304–17.
McAuley E, Courneya KS. Adherence to exercise and physical actiity as health-promoting behaviors: Attitudinal and self-efficacy influences. Applied and Preventive Psychology. 1993;2:65–77.
Carron AV, Hausenblas HA, Mack D. Social influence and exercise: A meta-analysis. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 1996;18:1–16.
Dishman RK, Buckworth J. Increasing physical activity: A quantitative synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Jun 1996;28(6):706–19.
Bain LL, Wilson T, Chaikind E. Participant perceptions of exercise programs for overweight women. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1989;60:134–43.
Baron RS, Kerr NL. Group process, group decision, group action. 2nd ed. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press; 2003.
Karau SJ, Williams KD. Social loafing: A meta-analytic review and theoretical integration. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993;65:681–706.
Kerr NL, Hertel G. The Köhler group motivation gain: How to motivate the "weak links" in a group. Soc Pers Psychol Comp. January 2010;5(1):43–55.
Weber B, Hertel G. Motivation gains of inferior group members: A meta-analytical review. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007;93(6):973–93.
Steiner ID. Group process and productivity. New York: Academic Press; 1972.
Stroebe W, Diehl M, Abakoumkin G. Social compensation and the Köhler effect: Toward a theoretical explanation of motivation gains in group productivity. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; 1996. Witte E, Davis J, eds. Understanding group behavior: Consensual action by small groups; No. 2.
Kerr NL, Messé LA, Seok DH, Sambolec EJ, Lount Jr. RB, Park ES. Psychological mechanisms underlying the Köhler motivation gain. Pers Soc Psychol B. 2007;33(6):828–41.
Feltz DL, Kerr NL, Irwin BC. Buddy up: The Köhler effect applied to health games. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2011;33:506–26.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC; 2008.
Lount Jr RB, Kerr NL, Messé LA, Seok DH, Park ES. An Examination of the Stability and Persistence of the KöhlerMotivation Gain Effect. Group Dynamics. 2008;12(4):279.
Clarke P, O'Malley PM, Johnston LD, Schulenberg JE, Lantz P. Differential trends in weight-related health behaviors among American young adults by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status: 1984–2006. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(10):1893–901.
Bandura A. Guide for creating self-efficacy scales. In: Pajares F, Urdan T, eds. Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents. Greenwich, CT: Informationa Age Publishing; 2006:307–37.
Mohiyeddini C, Pauli R, Bauer S. The role of emotion in bridging the intention-behavior gap: The case for sports participation. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2009;10:226–34.
Borg GAV. Borg's perceived exertion and pain scales. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 1998.
Optenberg SA, Lairson DR, Slater CH, Russell ML. Agreement of self-reported and physiologically estimated fitness status in a symptom-free population. Prev Med. Jul 1984;13(4):349–54.
Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Jan 2008;40(1):181–8.
Andrew GM, Oldridge NB, Parker JO, Cunningham DA, Rechnitzer PA, Jones NL, et al. Reasons for dropout from exercise programs in post-coronary patients. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1981;13(3):164–8.
Williams SL, French DP. What are the most effective intervention techniques for changing physical activity self-efficacy and physical activity behaviour- and are they the same? Health Educ Res. 2011;26(2):308–22.
Weiner B. Human Motivation. NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston; 1980.
Kerr NL, Seok D, Poulsen J, Harris D, Messé LM. Social ostracism and group motivation gain. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2008;38(4):736–46.
Kerr NL, Seok DH. "… with a little help from my friends": Friendship, effort norms, and group motivation gain. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 2011;26(3):205–18.
Huffmeier J, Hertel G. When the whole is more than the sum of its parts: Motivation gains in the wild. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 2011;47:455–9.
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.
About this article
Cite this article
Irwin, B.C., Scorniaenchi, J., Kerr, N.L. et al. Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect. ann. behav. med. 44, 151–159 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-012-9367-4
- Group performance
- Group exercise
- Köhler effect
- Exercise partner