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We define "affective exercise experiences" as "a summary valenced designation, ranging from pleasant to unpleasant, that reflects the history of associations between exercise over the life course of an individual and the attendant affective responses" (Ekkekakis et al., 2021, pp. 2-3).

It is, therefore, important to emphasize that the Affective Exercise Experiences (AFFEXX) Questionnaire is NOT a measure of affective or enjoyment responses to acute exercise or physical activity (i.e., it is NOT comparable to the Feeling Scale, the Exercise-induced Feeling Inventory, the Subjective Exercise Experiences Scale, or the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale, all of which were developed to assess responses during or after single sessions of exercise or physical activity). The AFFEXX is rather intended to be a measure of the (explicit) affective "valuation" of exercise, namely the pleasant or unpleasant valence that has been associated with the stimulus-concept of "exercise" as a result of a lifetime of repeated pairings of exercise experiences with pleasure or displeasure.

We postulate that affective exercise experiences may not be concordant with cognitive appraisals theorized to mediate behavior change in the domain of exercise and physical activity (e.g., self-efficacy, benefits vs. barriers, social support). In this sense, we predict that affective exercise experiences may contribute unique variance in exercise and physical activity behavior beyond what is presently accounted for by theories whose scope is limited to cognitivist explanatory constructs.

We also emphasize that the scope of the AFFEXX is distinct from constructs that may contain the word "affect" in their labels but actually represent cognitions (e.g., appraisals, beliefs, future projections), such as "affective attitudes," "affective judgments," and "anticipated affective responses."

While "affective attitudes," "affective judgments," and "anticipated affective responses" are considered amenable to change by providing a person with information (e.g., telling someone "exercise makes people feel better"), affective exercise experiences are first-hand, lived, past experiences with exercise or physical activity. As such, they can be changed by acquiring different first-hand, lived experiences, in order to replace what is termed "affective valuation" in the Affective-Reflective Theory (ART), namely "the tacit assignment of valence in an associative pairing" between exercise episodes and the pleasant or unpleasant affective experiences derived from these episodes (Brand & Ekkekakis, 2018, p. 54).

That said, we recognize that affective exercise experiences share the characteristics of other affective memories, including recall biases, a strong negativity bias, contextual influences, and the tendency to be reconstructive rather than directly veridical. Nevertheless, such memories can still be valuable predictors of motivation for future behavior.

According to the conceptual model underpinning the AFFEXX, core affective exercise experiences are at the center of a causal chain. They are influenced by various antecedent cognitive appraisals and, in turn, they shape an outcome motivational variable we call attraction-vs-antipathy towards exercise. Core affective exercise experiences can be classified in three types: (a) pleasure vs. displeasure, (b) energy vs. tiredness, and (c) calmness vs. tension. We propose six relevant patterns of cognitive appraisals: (a) interest-boredom, (b) competence-incompetence, (c) liking-disliking exercise in groups, (d) showing off-shying away, (e) empowering-damaging to health, (f) honor/pride vs. shame/guilt. Finally, we theorize an outcome motivational variable called "attraction-vs-antipathy" toward exercise. This is analogous to Kent C. Berridge's notion of "wanting" (in contradistinction to "liking") and David Williams' related notion of "desire" vs. "dread" of exercise.

Conceptual model of the AFFEXX

Initial Validation of the AFFEXX

  • Ekkekakis, P., Zenko, Z., & Vazou, S. (2021). Do you find exercise pleasant or unpleasant? The Affective Exercise Experiences (AFFEXX) questionnaire. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 55, 101930. [DOI]

Copy of the AFFEXX and Scoring Tools

  • A PDF copy of the questionnaire, as well as an Excel spreadsheet and an SPSS scoring script can be found here: [OSF]