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Research has shown that affect is associated with everyday movement behaviors in children and adults. However, limited work to date has investigated dyadic influences of momentary affect on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary time among children and their mothers using ecological momentary assessment (EMA).


Mothers and their children (eight to 12-years-old at baseline) from the Los Angeles metropolitan area participated in a longitudinal study with six semi-annual measurement waves across three years. During each measurement wave, mothers and children reported momentary negative and positive affect via a custom smartphone-based EMA application across seven days (randomly sampled up to eight times per day). Each dyad member’s momentary affective states were used to predict their own and the other dyad member’s accelerometer-measured MVPA and sedentary time in the prompt-matched 45-min time window. Multilevel modeling within the actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) framework was applied to accommodate the nested dyadic nature of the data.


At the within-subject level, when children had higher-than-usual positive affect, they engaged in greater MVPA and less sedentary time in the prompt-matched 45-min window (actor effects; ps < .001). When mothers experienced higher-than-usual positive affect, they engaged in more sedentary time in the same 45-min window (actor effect; p < .001). Children’s higher-than-usual positive affect also predicted more MVPA time of their mothers (partner effect; p < .05). At the between-subjects level, for mothers who reported higher average negative affect than other mothers, their children overall had less MVPA and more sedentary time (partner effects ps < .05).


This study extends the literature by demonstrating that mothers’ and children’s everyday physical activity and sedentary time are not only associated with their own affective states, but also may be influenced by the affective states of each other. Our findings suggest that affective states have the potential to influence movement behaviors in mother-child dyads’ everyday lives. Affective underpinnings of physical activity and sedentary behaviors should be further studied in order to develop family-based intervention strategies to influence these behaviors.

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APA Citation

Yang, C.-H., Huh, J., Mason, T. B., Belcher, B. R., Kanning, M., & Dunton, G. F. (2020). Mother-child dyadic influences of affect on everyday movement behaviors: Evidence from an ecological momentary assessment study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 56.

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