Burstiness and stochasticity in the malleability of physical activity

Vincent Berardi, David Pincus, Evan Walker, Marc A. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined whether patterns of self-organization in physical activity (PA) predicted long-term success in a yearlong PA intervention. Increased moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) was targeted in insufficiently active adults (N = 512) via goal setting and financial reinforcement. The degree to which inverse power law distributions, which are reflective of self-organization, summarized (a) daily MVPA and (b) time elapsed between meeting daily goals (goal attainment interresponse times) was calculated. Goal attainment interresponse times were also used to calculate burstiness, the degree to which meeting daily goals clustered in time. Inverse power laws accurately summarized interresponse times, but not daily MVPA. For participants with higher levels of MVPA early in the study, burstiness in reaching goals was associated with long-term resistance to intervention, while stochasticity in meeting goals predicted receptiveness to intervention. These results suggest that burstiness may measure self-organizing resistance to change, while PA stochasticity could be a precondition for behavioral malleability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-398
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Behavior maintenance
  • Behavioral intervention
  • Inverse power law
  • Self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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