Self-presentation and physical activity in young women: the role of social physique anxiety and physical self-perceptions
Kowalski, Nanette P.
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The purpose of this research was to assess the relationships among social physique anxiety, physical self-perceptions, and level of physical activity involvement in young women. Subjects were 354 female undergraduate students at a Canadian university who completed the Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS), Physical Self-Perception Profile (PSPP), Self-Administered 7-Day Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire (PAR), and Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (LTEQ). Pearson product-moment correlation analysis indicated that scores of social physique anxiety had weak, but significant, negative relationships with scores for recent physical activity (PAR, r = -.16) and typical physical activity (LTEQ, r = -.16). Social physique anxiety was correlated with all of the physical self-perceptions, but only self-perceptions of body attractiveness accounted for significant variance in social physique anxiety scores. All of the physical self-perceptions were significantly related to physical activity levels, although results indicated that self-perceptions of conditioning were the only physical self-perceptions to account for significant variance in the prediction of physical activity levels. Hierarchical regression analyses showed weak moderator effects for the self-perceptions of general physical self-worth, strength, and body attractiveness on the relationships between social physique anxiety and both recent and typical physical activity levels. However, the moderator effects were so weak that the practical significance of these results was negligible. The moderator models with the significant moderator effects accounted for between 4% and 14% of the variance in physical activity level, with the moderator effects accounting for only 1.0% to 1.6% of additional variance beyond the direct effects of social physique anxiety and the physical self-perceptions. The results of this study suggested that the effect of social physique anxiety, whether through direct or interaction effects with physical self-perceptions, on the physical activity levels of young women was negligible. In addition, the results of this study supported the structure of the PSPP model, suggesting that the PSPP is a valuable instrument for measuring self-perceptions in the physical domain.