Colin Jenney

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Angela Liegey-Dougall


Every year, approximately 47 million Americans belong to a gym as a means of obtaining physical activity. Although little is known about crowding in a gym environment, research in other environments, including retail settings, has demonstrated that perceived crowding has resulted in negative effects such as decreased satisfaction and inhibited goal-attainment. Therefore, if perceived crowding in a gym is aversive, it may be a significant barrier to regular exercise. However, other studies in the retail crowding literature have found increased satisfaction during crowded shopping experiences in goods-based stores. These divergent outcomes of crowding may be explained by whether or not people attribute their feelings of arousal to crowding or to another source. In order to empirically examine the effects of crowding, arousal, and attributions on a group-exercise class within a gym setting, this study consisted of a novel experiment using a 2 (density: high, low) X 3 (attribution given: crowding, physical activity, none) factorial design. College-aged adults (N = 161), who met minimum health criteria to exercise and who were not regular cyclists, were randomized into one of the six groups. Subsequently, these groups took part in a 30-minute group-exercise cycling class under the condition assigned. For the primary hypotheses, it was found that those in high-density felt more crowded than those in low-density, as expected. For the expectations that increased arousal would result from increased density and attributions to crowding, it was found that the crowding attribution group had a higher average heart rate than the no attribution group, and that the no attribution group felt more psychological arousal than the physical activity attribution group. As for changes in aroused mood, it was seen that vigor-activity mood increased over time among the physical activity and no attribution groups, and that tension decreased over time, regardless of group assignment. Expected changes in the exercise outcomes of intentions, enjoyment, and activity were not discovered, save a difference in attribution group such that the crowding group displayed more activity than the no attribution group. Other results indicated that that bother due to temperature moderated the relationship among density and attribution groups, and psychological arousal. Moreover, it was discovered that neuroticism and density positively predicted social crowding whereas motivation negatively predicted it... The findings obtained from this study provided initial evidence in order to better understand the relationships among crowding, arousal, attributions, and exercise. These results suggest that density may not directly impact arousal and exercise outcomes, and that one's attribution as to the cause of density may be more important than actual density in the crowding process. Manipulation of attributions in this context may help to reduce feelings of crowding. Future research should further examine these relationships to clearly determine the effect of crowding on exercise behavior and adherence. Results from this research might also be used to design an intervention aimed at guiding attributions among exercisers in order to reduce feelings of crowding as well as reduce barriers to gym use and adherence.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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Psychology Commons