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Psychol Rep. 2018 Apr;121(2):344-355. doi: 10.1177/0033294117726076. Epub 2017 Aug 11.

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

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Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS, USA.


Objective 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. Methods 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. Results 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. Conclusion 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.


Executive function; conscientiousness; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity

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