This study examined emotion, stress, and performance during aerobic exercise performed in the telic and paratelic states, in relation to telic and paratelic dominance. The study tested the misfit effect and is the first to examine heart rate variability (HRV) responses to exercise in relation to both personality and motivational state. Based on their Paratelic Dominance Scale scores, participants identified as telic dominant (TD) and paratelic dominant (PD) completed ramp tests following telic and paratelic state manipulations (repeated measures). In each condition, participants watched “serious” (telic) or “playful” (paratelic) videos for 10 min, then performed a ramp test on a cycle ergometer while continuing to watch the videos throughout the entire protocol. Motivational state (telic/paratelic), HRV, emotion, and stress levels were measured at baseline, pre, post, and 15 min post-ramp test. Time to exhaustion was measured as an index of performance. Limited support was obtained for the misfit effect as interactions between state and dominance were not revealed for any of the variables with the exception of low frequent (LF) and the low frequent/high frequent ratio (LF/HF % normalized), which can be interpreted as indicating that both groups were more relaxed in their preferred state condition. Regardless, findings offer useful insight into methodological considerations for similar studies, such as consideration of the moderating effects of exercise characteristics. Our findings also confirm a number of reversal theory (Apter, 1982) proposals including the concept of dominance as an individual difference factor, with varying characteristics of different dominances, based on physiological response variables. We recommend continued research into the misfit effect with larger samples, and designs that accommodate the methodological considerations raised by the present results.