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Working harder and smarter: investigating an association between physical activity behaviour and social physique anxiety in a naturalistic environment

Portman, Robert (2016) Working harder and smarter: investigating an association between physical activity behaviour and social physique anxiety in a naturalistic environment. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Social physique anxiety (SPA) is experienced when an individual perceives themselves to be the recipient of negative body evaluation by others, and has been hypothesised to deter physical activity participation for some individuals. Despite the recognised disparity between male and female body-image concerns, with females consistently reporting greater SPA than males, previous literature is yet to demonstrate a significant association between SPA and physical activity behaviour. The current study investigated an association between sex, physical activity frequency, physical activity intensity and SPA. Currently active users (N = 33 males; N = 31 females) of an on-campus university-run gym participated in this study. Participants were required to complete a background physical activity questionnaire and the 12-item social physique anxiety scale (SPAS) before performing an exercise session at a self-selected level of exertion, with the intensity of each session measured via heart rate monitor. An independent samples t-test revealed female participants (M=41.09, SD=10.46) reported significantly higher SPAS scores than males (M=26.96, SD=6.20). Subsequent ANOVA analyses revealed no significant differences in SPA by physical activity frequency, or physical activity intensity, with an interaction analysis also proving non-significant. Males and females differed in terms of physical activity choice, with females more likely to perform aerobic activity and males more inclined to perform anaerobic activity. The finding for female participants to report higher SPA is consistent with previous literature and may reflect a psychological manifestation of a disproportionate cultural emphasis for females to appear attractive. The current findings are also consistent with previous literature in failing to uncover a significant association between SPA and physical activity frequency, suggesting SPA may be able to be successfully negotiated in order to facilitate the performance of regular physical activity. SPA was not significantly linked to how strenuously an individual may exercise despite a tendency for those performing moderate intensity activity to report higher SPA. Findings are discussed in consideration of practical limitations for identifying links between SPA and aspects of physical activity behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
Depositing User: Sally Hughes
Date Deposited: 26 May 2017 14:37
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 15:58


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