Effects of exercise self-schema on reactions to self-relevant feedback

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Objectives:The purpose of this study was to test the influence of exercise self-schema on the processing of self-relevant information in the sport and exercise domain. It was hypothesized that exercise schematics would cognitively prefer consistent feedback over positive feedback (self-consistency principle), whereas affectively, participants without exercise self-schema would prefer positive feedback over consistent feedback (self-enhancement principle).Design:Cross-sectional online study with a 2 × 3 mixed model design.Method:472 subjects (52.54% female, Mage = 31.35, SD = 11.90) participated in an online-study providing them with bogus test results consistent with as well as positively and negatively deviating from their self-assessments in exercise-related aspects. To measure preference, affective and cognitive reactions were assessed after each feedback presentation.Results:Mixed-model ANOVAS (between-subject factor: exercise self-schema, within-subject factor: type of feedback) reveal significant interactions for both affective and cognitive reaction. However, these are not based on an interaction of the levels ‘consistent’ and ‘positive’ of type of feedback, but on an interaction of ‘negative’ and ‘consistent’ feedback. For exercise schematics, the gap between reactions to consistent and negative feedback is larger than for participants without exercise self-schema.Conclusions:The original hypotheses could not be confirmed, indicating a general dominance of the self-enhancement principle. However, the unexpected interaction suggests that participants with exercise self-schema seem to devalue negative feedback more than those without exercise self-schema, which could be explained by self-consistency principles.

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