Note: In 2013, Health Games Research completed its work. This web site is now an archive and will not be updated. Please visit the web site of the Center for Digital Games Research at UC Santa Barbara to find current information about health games and the broader field of digital games, and to use the Health Games Research online searchable database.

Buddy Up! Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation to Exercise

Research has found that people will work harder with a partner in a taxing physical task than when working alone, especially if the partner is moderately better at the task.  This study provides a virtual partner in exercises that participants do on the Eye Toy: Kinetic camera-based video game.  College-aged study participants are randomly assigned to do Eyetoy: Kinetic exercises either with a virtual partner or alone, and characteristics of the partner are varied to see which are most effective at improving endurance and exercise time, for which types of participants.

Principal Investigator
Deborah L. Feltz, Ph.D.
Department of Kinesiology
Norbert Kerr, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Other Researchers

Joe C. Eisenmann, Ph.D.
Brandon Irwin, M.S.


Grantee Project Publication Title Datesort icon
Michigan State University
Buddy Up! Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation to Exercise MSU News MSU Researchers Study Motivational Impact of Virtual Workout Partners
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Feltz, D.L., Kerr, N.L., & Irwin, B.C. (2011). Buddy up: The Köhler effect applied to health video games. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33 (4), 506-526.

Irwin, B.C., Feltz, D.L., Kerr, N.L., & Hwang, S. (2010). Cyber buddies: Testing the Köhler motivation gain effect using virtual partners. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 32S, 29.


Irwin, B.C., Feltz, D.L., Kerr, N.L., & Hwang, S. (2010). Match Making: An examination of discrepancy in ability as a moderator of motivation gains in partnered exercise games. Poster presentation at the bi-annual Meaningful Play Conference, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Kerr, N.L., Feltz, D.L., & Irwin, B.C. (2010). Explicit icentives and the Köhler motivation gain in exercise groups. Presented at annual meeting of Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research, Washington, D.C.