Is the relationship of RPE to psychological factors intensity-dependent?

Eric E. Hall, Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Steven J. Petruzzello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Although ample evidence shows that ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) are correlated with psychological variables, whether and how these relationships change as a function of exercise intensity remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine the correlations of RPE with both dispositional (extraversion, neuroticism, behavioral activation, behavioral inhibition) and situational (self-efficacy) psychological variables across three exercise intensities. Based on the social-psychophysiological model proposed by Rejeski, it was hypothesized that the correlations would be weakened as the intensity increased. Methods: Thirty young and healthy volunteers participated in three 15-min treadmill runs, one 20% VO2max below, one at, and one 10% VO2max above the ventilatory threshold. RPE was assessed at minutes 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. Results: Extraversion, behavioral activation, and self-efficacy showed significant negative correlations with RPE at lower but not higher intensities, whereas neuroticism was unrelated to RPE and behavioral inhibition was positively related across all three levels of intensity. Conclusions: The results provide partial support to the hypothesis that the relationship of dispositional and situational psychological factors to RPE changes systematically, becoming weaker at higher exercise intensities. This may have implications for the effectiveness of personality-based adjustments of exercise prescriptions and cognitive techniques for dealing with aversive sensations of exertion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1373
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Behavioral activation
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Extraversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Self-efficacy
  • Ventilatory threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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