Aerobic exercise is promoted when individual performance affects the group: a test of the Kohler motivation gain effect

Ann Behav Med. 2012 Oct;44(2):151-9. doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9367-4.


Background: A key barrier to achieving recommended intensity and duration of physical activity is motivation.

Purpose: We investigated whether a virtually present partner would influence participants' motivation (duration) during aerobic exercise.

Method: Fifty-eight females (M(age) = 20.54 ± 1.86) were randomly assigned to either a coactive condition (exercising alongside another person, independently), a conjunctive condition (performance determined by whichever partner stops exercising first) where they exercised with a superior partner, or to an individual condition. Participants exercised on a stationary bike at 65 % of heart rate reserve on six separate days.

Results: Across sessions, conjunctive condition participants exercised significantly longer (M = 21.89 min, SD = ±10.08 min) than those in coactive (M = 19.77 min, SD = ± 9.00 min) and individual (M = 10.6 min, SD = ±5.84 min) conditions (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Exercising with a virtually present partner can improve performance on an aerobic exercise task across multiple sessions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Young Adult