Escapism can either restore perspective or serve as an avoidance of problems that need to be addressed. Self-expansion refers to adaptive avoidance seeking pleasurable experiences. At the same time, self-suppression means avoiding unwanted events through inappropriate escape. Running can be used for reconnaissance or evasion.
“These two forms of avoidance stem from two different ways of thinking to promote positive moods or to inhibit negative moods,” Stenseng said.
Running hobbies for self-expansion produce more favorable results, but they also have longer-term benefits. Self-repression, on the other hand, tends to suppress and avoid both happy and negative feelings.
Exercise addiction is associated with self-inhibition
The team recruited 227 recreational runners, half male and half female, with significantly different running habits. They were asked to fill out questionnaires that examined three different aspects of running and exercise addiction: a running scale that measured self-expansion or self-reduction preferences, an exercise addiction scale, and a satisfaction with life scale that measured participants’ subjective well-being. being.
The researchers found that there was little overlap between runners who preferred self-expanding types of running and runners who preferred self-suppressing types of running. Self-expansion was associated with increased happiness, while self-repression was associated with decreased happiness. Both self-suppression and self-expansion were related to exercise confidence, but self-suppression was significantly stronger. Neither running style was associated with age, gender, or time spent running, but both influenced the relationship between well-being and exercise dependence. Regardless of whether or not a person meets the criteria for exercise addiction, prioritizing self-expansion will still be associated with a more positive sense of self.
Although exercise dependence impairs the potential well-being gained from exercise, it appears that reduced well-being is both a cause and a consequence of exercise dependence: dependence can also result from worse well-being while reinforcing it.
Similarly, positive self-enhancement can be a psychological motivator that promotes exercise addiction.
“More research using longitudinal research designs is needed to uncover more motivational dynamics and consequences in escapism,” Stenseng said. “However, these findings may enlighten people in understanding their motivations and may be used therapeutically for individuals struggling with an inappropriate relationship in their activities.”