Self-Favoring Bias for Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults1

Authors


  • 1

    This research was supported by Public Health Service grants (AG-09991 and AG-12358) and by a National Institutes of Health training grant (2T32 HL07034).

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sara Wilcox, who is now at the Department of Exercise Science, School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.

Abstract

A self-favoring bias for physical activity (PA) was examined in a community-based sample of middle-aged and older adults (N= 3,211). Participants' actual level of PA relative to peers was compared with their perceived PA relative to peers. It was estimated that 38% were realistic, 46% self-favoring, and 16% other-favoring in their perceptions. Among participants whose actual PA level was similar to peers, increasing age was associated with a self-favoring bias. Among less and more physically active participants, however, age was not associated with this bias. Better self-rated health and being male were also associated with a self-favoring bias. These results suggest that a self-favoring bias for PA exists in a significant proportion of middle-aged and older adults, and it is more pronounced with increasing age, among those with better self-rated health, and among men.

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