Conscientious planning may result in better physical activity, according to a study by the Association for Psychological Science (APS). The American non-profit organisation suggests that a facet of this trait, called ‘planfulness’, may translate into significant differences in behavior.
Conscientiousness is a measure of an individual’s orderliness and dependability while planfulness, including mental flexibility, such as a person’s ability to make short-term sacrifices in pursuit of future success, contributes directly to achieving long-term goals, report agencies.
Lead researcher Rita M. Ludwig of the University of Oregon (UO) explains that the study used an objective measure of goal progress that could be recorded in a natural setting: participants’ check-ins at the campus gym.
As the gym attendance of some 280 participants were analysed over 20 weeks,results varied.
The participants, many of whom were students, had provided a written description of their exercise plans and completed measures of self-control and grit, in addition to Ludwig’s 30-item Planfulness Scale.
Despite a general decline in gym attendance over the course of the study, participants who rated themselves high on planfulness went to the gym more often compared to those who ranked themselves lower on planfulness. There was also a slight relationship between participant planfulness and the level of detail in their physical activity plans, but descriptiveness was unexpectedly found to have no relationship with gym attendance. “It seems logical that people who are successful with their goals would be able to write in detail about their planning process.