The role of energetic resources on perception and physical activity choices

Taylor-Covill, Guy Alexander Howard (2013). The role of energetic resources on perception and physical activity choices. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Observations of human behaviour show a tendency for avoiding energy expenditure through stair climbing where possible. Similarities between demographic influences in stair avoidance and explicit perceptions of geographical slant outlined in the ‘economy of action’ account (Proffitt, 2006) suggest that this avoidance behaviour might be due to a perceptual bias. Chapter two of this thesis investigated measures of slant perception linked to action. It appears that these ‘haptic’ measures tap into a perceptual process that is more in touch with the physical reality of the environment than conscious awareness. Chapter four demonstrated that fundamentals of the economy of action account generalise to the perception of staircases, and to a newly developed laboratory setting. Depletion of energetic resources, manipulated through fatigue, resulted in steeper explicit estimates of staircase steepness. In reaction to published criticisms of the methodology used in this field, chapter five took a new approach to testing the effect of resources on perception. Two quasi-experimental field studies, designed to circumvent methodological issues challenging the validity of previous studies, demonstrated that available energy resources affects consciously perceived steepness in the built environment. Chapters six and seven built on this by testing the economy of action account as a model that explains stair avoidance behaviour. Encouragingly, across two different points-of-choice between stair climbing and avoidance, explicit measures of perceived geographical slant were linked to reported prior stair climbing behaviour at one site (chapter six) and objectively measured behaviour at another (chapter seven). Collectively, these findings suggest that available energetic resources dictate the exaggeration of perceived geographical slant experienced at an individual level, and that this in turn influences stair choice behaviour, biasing those with less resources towards stair avoidance and energy preservation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine


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