Longitudinal Effects of Personality on Physical Activity Among College Students: Examining Executive Function as a Potential Moderator

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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between personality and physical activity, with a specific focus on whether executive function moderates this relationship.


One hundred twenty-six young adults provided complete data at baseline and the five-month follow-up assessment. Executive function was assessed via the parametric Go/No-Go computer task; outcome measures of parametric Go/No-Go were mean reaction time and percent of correct target detection across executive function tasks (simple rule and repeating rule). Personality and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were assessed via validated questionnaires; one-week test–retest was established on a random sample of the participants, with pedometry employed in the subsample.


Individuals with a higher baseline conscientiousness personality type had greater five-month follow-up moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (β = 18.5; 95% confidence interval: 5.3, 31.7; p = .006). There was no evidence of an interaction effect for personality trait and executive function on five-month follow-up moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.


The personality trait conscientiousness was associated with greater moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. However, there was no evidence to suggest that executive function moderates the role between personality and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Thus, if confirmed by future work, personality may exert its effects on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity independent of executive function level.

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