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The Effects of Moderate Exercise on Bayesian Choices

  • David L. Dickinson
  • Scott R. Collier

Exercise is known to improve health along many dimensions. Decision making is an understudied dimension of one’s (behavioral) health where exercise effects are not well-known. Because certain physiological changes are known to impact decision making, exercise may modulate decisions via its effect on physiological or psychological variables. We examine how moderate aerobic exercise affects outcomes and the decision process in an incentivized Bayesian choice task. Twenty-six adult subjects (30-60 years old, 14 female) are administered the decision task under both exercise and no-exercise conditions. Our results indicate that the estimated decision model changes post-exercise such that exercise increases the decision weight subjects place on new evidence in making their choices. This same effect is found among those with higher fitness levels, which is a long-term result of regular exercise, but both of these effects appear gender-specific. Accuracy of choice, however, is not significantly affected by the exercise treatment. The fact that exercise leads to a shift in relative decision weights on evidence compared to base rate information is important in terms of identifying when exercise and/or fitness may lead to improved versus harmed decision making in more complex environments. Key Words: Experiments, Exercise, Health, Bayesian Choice

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File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp1206.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Appalachian State University in its series Working Papers with number 12-06.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:12-06
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Web page: http://www.business.appstate.edu/departments/economics/

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  1. Lundborg, Petter & Andersson, Henrik, 2007. "Gender, risk perceptions, and smoking behavior," Working Papers 2007:5, Swedish National Road & Transport Research Institute (VTI).
  2. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-56, December.
  3. Grether, David M, 1980. "Bayes Rule as a Descriptive Model: The Representativeness Heuristic," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 537-57, November.
  4. Hsieh, Chee-Ruey & Yen, Lee-Lan & Liu, Jin-Tan & Chyongchiou Jeng Lin, 1996. "Smoking, health knowledge, and anti-smoking campaigns: An empirical study in Taiwan," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 87-104, February.
  5. Chern, Wen S & Loehman, Edna T & Yen, Steven T, 1995. "Information, Health Risk Beliefs, and the Demand for Fats and Oils," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(3), pages 555-64, August.
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