Promoting physical activity: A reversal theory perspective


Research suggests tailored messages promoting physical activity are not always effective. In an attempt to explain the mixed results, the present study investigated the effects of message tailoring from a reversal theory (RT) perspective University students (N = 189) were exposed to two video messages promoting exercise that were tailored to the interests of telic (i.e., goal-oriented) and paratelic (i.e., playful) state defined by RT. Participants' recall, involvement, attitude, intentions and behaviour toward the subject of exercise were recorded. Among participants who watched the telic message, those in the telic state had better attitudes toward exercise than those in the paratelic state. Among participants who watched the paratelic message, those in the paratelic state reported higher involvement with and intentions to exercise. Metamotivational dominance had no influence on responses to either message. In general, tailored groups responded more favourably than non-tailored groups on a few variables. The results suggest that tailoring messages to recipient's metamotivational state may be an effective strategy to promote physical activity. Public health campaigns should take into account the state recipients are likely to be in when receiving a message.