Master of Education in Applied Human Development Graduate Projects


Cognitive strategies allow athletes and recreational exercisers to shift their focus of attention to achieve psychological benefits and performance enhancements. The types of cognitive strategy utilized, association and dissociation, can differentially affect individuals’ psychological and performance outcomes. The purpose of the current study was to examine the potential relationships between cognitive strategies and enjoyment, mood, time to completion, heart rate, perceived exertion, and self-efficacy by randomly assigning participants to two interventions: an Association intervention and a Dissociation intervention. Participants (N = 12) included male, college-age recreational exercisers who exercised for at least 120 minutes per week in the previous month. Participants completed two 1.5-mile jogging sessions under both the Associative and Dissociative interventions. During the exercise, heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion were recorded every four laps, and time to completion and state enjoyment were recorded following the completion of the run. Self-efficacy and mood states were measured pre- and post-exercise. No evidence was produced to indicate that state enjoyment was influenced by the interventions (i.e., cognitive strategies). When using the Association intervention first, there was a main effect for Depression between Association and Dissociation; however, this result was independent of Time. When using the Dissociation intervention first, the participants’ mood states of Fatigue and Confusion were found to decrease while Vigor increased, but only during the dissociation intervention. Time to completion, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, and task or scheduling self-efficacy were not significantly influenced by the type cognitive strategy used; however, participants did report increases in RPE over time and increases in coping self-efficacy pre- to post-exercise. It was concluded that the cognitive strategy intervention, independent of order, did not directly influence any dependent variables. Nonetheless, following a 20-minute exercise, male recreational exercisers were able to enhance positive psychological outcomes. Future research should examine various modes and intensities of exercise as well as participants’ preferred exercise to further study the use of cognitive strategies during exercise.


Dr. Lynn A. Darby

Second Reader

Dr. Bonnie G. Berger