People who make specific plans to achieve their goals may engage in more physical activity, including visits to the gym, compared to those who do not plan so far ahead, research shows. These research findings, published in the Journal of the Psychological Science Association's Psychological Science suggest that self-reported levels of trait called "plannedness" can turn into real differences in behavior.
Some people seem to be able to achieve their goals more consistently than others, but it remains unclear whether personality traits that have been found to promote lab goals in a similar fashion encourage people to achieve long-term goals in their daily lives. life, says lead researcher Rita M. Ludwig of the University of Oregon. Consciousness, a measure of the orderliness and reliability of individuals in the Big Five Personality Inventories, has long been linked to healthy behavior, noted Ludwig and her colleagues Sanjay Srivastava and Elliott T. Berkman, also of the University of Oregon. Shrinking their focus to one aspect of this trait, planiness, enables researchers to delve deeper into psychological processes ̵
"There seems to be a certain way of thinking about goals that is in line with long-term progress," Ludwig says. "What is new about this study is that we used an objective measure of progress toward goals that can be written down, as participants naturally went through their lives: their checks at a local gym."
Ludwig and colleagues examined this relationship, analyzing a fitness visit of 282 participants over a 20-week period. The researchers tracked the number of times each participant slipped into the campus recreation center after enrolling in the study at the beginning of the 2018 academic semester. They also retroactively collected fitness attendance data throughout the fall of 2017
The participants, many of whom were students, provided a written description of their exercise plans and implemented self-monitoring and grit measures in addition to the Big Five Personality Inventory and Planning Scale of Louis and colleagues with 30 goggles
While all participants experience a similar decline in fitness attendance each semester, individuals who are highly rated on planning issues such as "developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me" went to the gym more in the two semesters than those who ranked lower in planning. The researchers found that a one-point increase on the five-point planning scale corresponds to additional visits to holiday centers during the fall semester and 8.5 visits after enrollment in the winter semester study.
Planning is only significantly related to the frequency of visits to the gym during the winter semester, possibly because participants completed their physical activity plan later in the year, the researchers note.
"This work is broadly informative for those who are curious about how people pursue health goals, including their own thinking patterns," says Ludwig. "Clinicians may find it helpful to understand how their patients tend to think about the goals and whether the differences between people in such thinking are related to the results."
While there was a small but significant relationship between participants' planning and level of detail in their physical activity plans, descriptiveness was unexpectedly found to be unrelated to fitness attendance, noted Ludwig and colleagues
"It seems logical for people who are successful with their goals to be able to write in detail about their process of exercise. planning, "says Ludwig. "We were then surprised to find no connection between people's pursuit of the goal and how they wrote about their goals."
Future psycholinguistic studies may explore alternative explanations for these findings, the researchers conclude.
###  All data are available through the Open Science Framework. This article received open data, open source and pre-registration badges.
Reference: "Predicting Exercises with Personality: Planning and Achieving Goals" by Rita M. Ludwig, Sanjay Srivastava and Elliott T. Berkman, September 17, 2019, Psychological Science .
doi: 10.1177 / 0956797619868812