Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) is a psychological intervention that combines acceptance and mindfulness approaches with behavior change strategies to increase psychological flexibility, defined as present moment awareness despite unpleasant private events, and behaving based on personal values. Obesity is a socially significant problem effecting duration and quality of life. Quantifying differences between high and low exercise groups and evaluating interventions that affect exercise value represent an avenue to understand obesity and change behavior. This study assessed the effects of a brief ACT exercise on the demand for general and sport-specific exercise and delay discounting rates of four commodities (i.e., money, food, general exercise, and sport-specific exercise) in Division I athletes (n=78) and non-athletes (n=78) from the same university. Statistically significant main effects for general exercise were observed between athletes compared to non-athletes for intensity, elasticity, and breakpoint. Differences in demand for sport-specific exercise between athletes and non-athletes were observed across all behavioral economic indices. The ACT intervention did not alter the demand for general or sport-specific exercise. General and sport-specific exercise were valued similarly between individual participants in each group. In the delay discounting task, ACT significantly decreased degree of discounting of all four commodities (increased the area under the curve) in both athletes and non-athletes. No differences were observed between athletes and non-athletes for any of the four commodities, indicating that athletes and non-athletes discounted these commodities similarly. Results from the demand task provide initial support for the extension of hypothetical purchase tasks to exercise behavior. which would offer a standardized method to quantify exercise value efficiently. Results from the discounting task provide initial evidence indicating that ACT may be effective in reducing discounting rates across commodities. Given that steep discounting rates are considered to play an important causal role in maladaptive behaviors related to obesity, evidence of a therapeutic intervention with the potential to produce longer-lasting change in decision-making is encouraging.
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