Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Social Physique Anxiety, Body Dissatisfaction, and Self-Esteem in College Females of Differing Exercise Frequency, Perceived Weight Discrepancy, and Race

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Social Physique Anxiety, Body Dissatisfaction, and Self-Esteem in College Females of Differing Exercise Frequency, Perceived Weight Discrepancy, and Race

Article excerpt

Social physique anxiety (SPA; Hart Leafy, & Rejeski, 1989) may reduce exercise motivation (Eklund & Crawford, 1994; McAuley, Bane, & Mihalko, 1995) and has been associated with both low (Lantz, Hardy, & Ainsworth, 1997) and excessive exercise (Frederick & Morisson, 1996; Imm & Pruitt, 1991). Crawford and Eklund (1994) found that college women with high in SPA preferred exercise settings that did not emphasize physical features. In addition, SPA has been shown to be correlated with increased body fat percentage (Eklund & Crawford, 1994; Hart, Rejeski, & Leary, 1989) preferred exercise setting (Spink, 1992) and lower self-esteem and body satisfaction in females (Martin, Engels, Wirth, & Smith, 1997) and males (Russell, 2002). Recently, Martin et al (1997) examined predictors of SPA in elite female athletes. Regression results indicated that when controlling for body fat %, self-esteem, weight control, and perceived body consciousness accounted for 57% of the variance in SPA, with global self-esteem contributing the most (45%). Specifically, it was concluded that females who disliked their bodies had higher SPA and that % body fat did not contribute to the prediction of SPA. Yet the path model derived from self-presentational theory (Leary & Kowlaski, 1995) indicates that people with higher body mass index would be expected to experience greater social physique anxiety. Support was recently provided for this model (Diehl, Brewer, Cornelius, Van Raalte, & Shaw, 2000), indicating that body mass index influences SPA, which in turn affects protective self-presentational motives and ultimately protective self-presentational behaviors.

While SPA has been shown to be closely related to body dissatisfaction (Bartlewski, Van Raalte, & Brewer, 1996; Lantz et al., 1997; McAuley et al., 1995), less is known regarding self-perceived weight discrepancies and their impact on SPA. Specifically, research has indicated that women show higher dissatisfaction for weight, hip, thigh, body fatness, and weight, and regular exercise has improved body cathexis (Salusso-Deonier & Schwarzkopf, 1991). The relationship between exercise and body satisfaction is surely a dynamic one. For example, regular involvement in an exercise program may, at the onset, produce biologic reinforcers like improved muscle tone, increased stamina, and reduction of body weight and fat content. Together, these factors may, at least in the short term, enhance one's body esteem. However, diligent exercise involvement can also have negative consequences, particularly among emotionally susceptible, highly critical or fiercely competitive exercisers. Comparison between one's own shape and that of ultra-slender models may also foster a critical view of one's physical appearance and an increasing sense of disenchantment (Davis, 1997). Furthermore, it may be that although exercise enhances a women's perceived body image, her idealized body image begins to shift toward a thinner standard, with the resultant dissatisfaction remaining the same regardless of objective improvement.

Lantz et al (1997) proposed that the discrepancy between females' perceived ideal body image and their actual physique may also be a primary mediator of SPA. In fact, the very nature of such a perceived discrepancy describes the construct of SPA, in that those who view their body favorably may not be concerned with exercising under social evaluation. However, individuals who are dissatisfied with their appearance may not present themselves in situations where their body may be evaluated. In support of this contention, Leary and Kowalski (1990) argued that a factor that motivates impression management involves the degree of discrepancy between the image one would like others to hold of oneself and the image one believes others already hold. Perceived actual-ideal weight similarity has been shown (Seggar, McCannon, & Cannon, 1988) to be positively related to body satisfaction, and since this satisfaction is associated with SPA (Bartlewski et al. …

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