Rating of perceived effort but relative to what? A comparison between imposed and self-selected anchors

Tomer Malleron, Itai Har-Nir, Andrew D. Vigotsky, Israel Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Collecting reliable and valid rating of perceived effort (RPE) data requires properly anchoring the scales’ upper limits (i.e., the meaning of 10 on a 0–10 scale). Yet, despite their importance, anchoring procedures remain understudied and theoretically underdeveloped. Here we propose a new task-based anchoring procedure that distinguishes between imposed and self-selected anchors. In the former, researchers impose on participants a specific task as the anchor; in the latter, participants choose the most effortful task experienced or imaginable as the anchor. We compared the impact of these conceptually different anchoring procedures on RPE. Methods: Twenty-five resistance-trained participants (13 females) attended a familiarization and two randomized experimental sessions. In both experimental sessions, participants performed non-fatiguing and fatiguing isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) protocols with the squat followed by the gripper or vice versa. After each MVC, participants reported their RPE on a 0–10 scale relative to an imposed anchor of the performed task (e.g., gripper MVCs anchored to a gripper MVC) or to a self-selected anchor. Results: In the non-fatiguing condition, imposed anchors yielded greater RPEs than self-selected anchors for both the squat [on average, 9.4 vs. 5.5; Δ(CI95%) = 3.9 (3.2, 4.5)] and gripper [9.4 vs. 3.9; Δ = 5.5 (4.7, 6.3)]. Similar results were observed in the fatiguing condition for both the squat [9.7 vs. 6.9; Δ = 2.8 (2.1, 3.5)] and gripper [9.7 vs. 4.5; Δ = 5.2 (4.3, 5.9)]. Conclusions: We found large differences in RPE between the two anchors, independent of exercises and fatigue state. These findings provide a basis for further development and refinement of anchoring procedures and highlight the importance of selecting, justifying, and consistently applying the chosen anchors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102396
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
StatePublished - May 2023


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1249/20


    • Anchoring procedures
    • Effort
    • Neuromuscular fatigue
    • RPE


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