Monetary cost for time spent in everyday physical activities.
74 - 80
Soc Sci Med
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We measured utility curves for the hypothetical monetary costs as a function of time engaged in three everyday physical activities: walking, standing, and sitting. We found that activities requiring more physical exertion resulted in steeper discount curves, i.e., perceived cost as a function of time. We also examined the effects of gain vs. loss framing (whether the activity brought additional rewards or prevented losses) as well as the effects of the individual factors of gender, income, and BMI. Steeper discount curves were associated with higher income (annual household ≥ median of $45,000) and gain framing (which indicates loss aversion). There were interactions between gender and frame, and also income and frame: Females and higher income participants showed loss aversion whereas males and lower income participants were not affected by framing. Males showed less discounting in gain frames relative to females, whereas females showed less discounting in loss frames relative to males. In gain frames, higher income participants discounted more but in loss frames there was no effect of income. We also found individual tendencies for discounting across activities: if an individual exhibited steeper discounting for one activity, they were also more likely to exhibit steeper discounting for the other activities. These results have implications for designers of interventions to encourage non-exercise physical activities, suggesting that loss-framed incentives are more effective for women and those with middle class (or greater) incomes. Furthermore loss framed incentives have more uniform impact across income brackets because people discount loss frames similarly regardless of income whereas those with middle-class incomes are not as motivated by gain frames. Our results also demonstrate a general method for examining the costs of effort associated with everyday activities.