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The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of associative and dissociative intervention strategies upon perceived exertion in undergraduate and graduate female students (n = 13, 18 - 24 years of age) exercising on stationary bicycles. Participants had some experience with cycling, as they were recruited from physical education spinning classes at a large southeastern university. They were assigned to each treatment condition, and performed the same 10-minute cycling task for four consecutive weeks. The order of treatment was randomized to discourage order effects. Interventions applied were derived from Stevinson and Biddle's (1999) two-dimensional coping strategy model. The first dimension was task relevance, comprised of associative (e.g. bodily sensations, pace) and dissociative (e.g. daydreams, environmental distractions) processes. The second dimension was direction of attention, i.e. internal or external. Therefore, the model yields four coping strategy types: internal association, external association, internal dissociation, and external dissociation. It was hypothesized that (1) participants in the internal and external dissociation conditions would report lower RPE than participants in the internal and external associative conditions, (2) there would no difference between the internal and external associative conditions, and (3) there would be no difference between the internal and external dissociative conditions. The first session was the same for all participants, consisting of a sub maximal multiple-stage test aimed at assessing the participants VO2 max and corresponding heart rates. The following four sessions each introduced a different intervention, but maintained an equivalent physical load. The task required the participants to ride an exercise bicycle for a total of 20-minutes during each session: comprised of a five-minute warm-up, a 10-minute physical task, and a five-minute cool down. The participants were asked to maintain a 75% HRmax range throughout the 10-minute cycling task. In order to examine the three hypotheses, a repeated measures ANOVA with one within subject factor (treatment condition) was used to analyze the data. The dependent variable is RPE as reported by the participants. Two main effects were observed: treatment condition and time. One interaction effect was also found: treatment by time. Results yielded significant differences (p < .01) between the associative and dissociative treatments. The associative treatments provided higher perceived exertion levels than the dissociative treatments for the same physical load. Therefore, task relevance may affect perceived exertion. However, the differences in perceived exertion were not significant between the internal association and external association (p = .22) and the internal dissociation and external dissociation treatments (p = .99). These findings suggest that the directional dimension of the model may not affect the perceived exertion of endurance tasks as much as task relevance.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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