Gender Differences in Physical Self-Perceptions, Global Self-Esteem and Physical Activity: Evaluation of the Physical Self-Perception Profile Model

By Hayes, Sean D.; Crocker, Peter R. E. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, March 1999 | Go to article overview

Gender Differences in Physical Self-Perceptions, Global Self-Esteem and Physical Activity: Evaluation of the Physical Self-Perception Profile Model


Hayes, Sean D., Crocker, Peter R. E., Kowalski, Kent C., Journal of Sport Behavior


Self-esteem has traditionally been considered an indication of mental and social life adjustment and a mediator of behavior (Hatter, 1989; Marsh, 1993). Research has shown that self-esteem is associated with many positive achievements and social-related behaviors including leadership ability, satisfaction, decreased anxiety, and improved academic and physical performance (Fox, 1992). Current self-esteem theory emphasizes the multi dimensionality of self-esteem, recognizing that people have different perceptions of themselves in different capacities (Hatter, 1985; Marsh & Shavelson, 1985). Thus, self-perceptions in different domains are thought to contribute to an overall and more global sense of self-esteem (Harter, 1978; 1989).

Self-esteem is considered to be a psychological benefit of participation in physical activity (Sonstroem, 1984), and perceptions of self-concept in the physical domain are considered to be an important factor in determining levels of global self-worth (Fox, 1992). However, early research was limited by measurement difficulties in that no instruments clearly measured physical self-concept, or distinguished it from any of the other domains of global self-esteem (Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976). This led to the development of several multidimensional, hierarchical physical self-concept instruments including the Physical Self-Perception Profile (PSPP; Fox & Corbin, 1989).

The Physical Self-Perception Profile (PSPP; Fox & Corbin, 1989) is based on a hierarchical, multidimensional theoretical model of self-esteem, in which self-perceptions can be categorized as superordinate (i.e., global self-esteem), domain (i.e., physical self-worth), subdomain (i.e., body attractiveness), facet (i.e., figure/physique), subfacet (i.e., slim waistline) and state (i.e., I feel trim today). Self-perceptions are general and enduring at the top of the hierarchy and increasingly specific and unstable at lower levels. The model holds that the extent to which we feel good about ourselves physically will contribute to how we feel about ourselves in general. Physical self-worth is proposed to mediate the relationship between specific physical self-perceptions and general feelings of self-esteem. The PSPP model holds that physical self-worth (general feelings of pride, satisfaction, happiness, and confidence in the physical self) is formed through the contribution of four types of physical self-perceptions: perceptions of physical conditioning and fitness (conditioning, stamina, fitness, ability to maintain exercise, confidence in exercise setting), perceptions of body attractiveness (attractive physique, ability to maintain an attractive body, confidence in appearance), perceptions of physical strength (perceived strength, muscular development, confidence in situations requiring strength) and perceptions of sport competence (athletic ability, ability to learn sport, confidence in sport).

Initial evidence supporting the validity and reliability of the PSPP was demonstrated with a large sample of American college-age students (Fox & Corbin, 1989). A positive relationship existed between PSPP subdomain scales and physical self-worth, and there was a positive association between physical self-worth and global self-esteem. When physical self-worth was removed through partial correlation analysis the majority of relationships that existed among PSPP subdomains and global self-esteem were extinguished. This provided evidence of the mediating influence of physical self-worth and its role as a superordinate variable for the PSPP subdomains. The model has also been similarly validated cross-culturally with British college-age subjects (Page, Ashford, Fox, & Biddle, 1993), and among U.S. adults (Sonstroem, Speliotis & Fava, 1992; Sonstroem, Harlow, & Josephs, 1994).

Fox and Corbin (1989) found acceptable factor validity for the four subdomain scales as well as similar factor patterns for males and females. …

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