Two Cans Short of Six-Pack Abs: the Influence of Goal-Orientation on Mood in the Achievement of Physical Activity Goals

Jonathan Flinchum, Cienna Hopkins


Physical activity and happiness have been consistently correlated together, but there has been limited research concerning the influence of physical activity goals and their achievement on happiness. Added to this, people’s unique characteristics such as their goal-orientation (i.e., how an individual defines success in sport) can affect how one reacts to achievement (or lack thereof). This study attempted to answer the question of whether or not achievement of a physical activity goal could affect a person’s mood based upon their goal-orientation. A total of 120 participants were given a goal to keep their average heart rate below a value standardized to their fitness level as they underwent a treadmill task. Each participant’s general happiness level and mood were assessed before and after the task using the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) and Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS), respectively. The Perception of Success Questionnaire (POSQ) assessed each participant’s goal-orientation, which measured both task- and ego-orientation. The task fit both of these orientations as participants had to individually reach their goal (task-orientation) and were also told that the average college student was able to achieve this goal (ego-orientation). Falsified results of the task were given to see how participants were affected by their assigned achievement condition (i.e., achieve, not achieve, or control). Based upon previous studies, it was hypothesized that people with higher levels of either or both goal-orientation types (task and/or ego) would have higher fluctuations in mood as compared to their counterparts (in either direction depending on if they achieved or did not achieve the task). However, results did not support this. 2x3 ANOVAs were conducted to test whether or not achievement affected mood with goal-orientation as a moderating variable. Results of these tests showed that only negative moods increased (e.g., anger) if the goal was not achieved. Study limitations are discussed to justify these results.


Goal-Orientation; Mood; Physical Activity Goals

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