Understanding exercise-related cognitive errors


Objective: Cognitive errors (CEs) reflect individuals' biased evaluations of context-relevant information. In the exercise domain, a valid form of exercise CE assessment is needed. The Exercise-related Cognitive Errors Questionnaire (E-CEQ) was developed to determine to what extent adults make cognitive errors regarding exercise decisions. The purpose of this study was to develop and provide initial validity evidence for the E-CEQ. Design: The current study used an online self-report survey. Method: First, 24 initial vignettes representing 6 types of CEs were created. Evidence of content validity is discussed. Second, data from 364 adults was gathered to examine the E-CEQ's factor structure. Third, aspects of criterion-related validity were examined (e.g., the E-CEQ's utility in predicting physical activity and adherence cognitions). Results: Content validity was demonstrated. A 9-item, 1-factor (a = .86) model was retained as the final E-CEQ factor structure and had excellent psychometric properties (?2=34.61, df=27, p>.05; RMSEA=.028; CFI=.990; TLI=.987). Regarding predictive utility, individuals expressing higher levels of CEs exercised less and reported problematic cognitions (e.g., more struggle with exercise decisions, lower self-regulatory efficacy). Conclusions: These results link CEs to weaker social cognitions and inconsistent adherence perceptions, a novel form of bias related to limited exercise engagement. The steps taken to examine different forms of validity helped provide a platform from which to continue (a) to study biases linked to cognitive errors and (b) the E-CEQ validation process through ongoing investigation.

Acknowledgments: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship and from Canada Research Chair training funds.