Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social physique anxiety (SPA) has become a construct of interest in research designed to explore the influence of self-presentation in exercise (Crawford & Eklund, 1994: Eklund & Crawford, 1994; McAuley, Bane & Mihalko, 1995; Spink, 1992) and athletic contexts (Mack & Martin, 1994; McAuley & Burman, 1993). SPA refers to the anxiety experienced by individuals who perceive that their physique will be negatively evaluated by others (Hart, Leary & Rejeski, 1989). Despite this recent attention, the influence of the nature of the group on SPA has been largely ignored. Disregarding the potential impact of the group may be a methodological shortcoming given that group membership has been shown to afford its members with considerable psychological protection (Carron, 1988). The primary purpose of the present investigation was to examine the influence of the group on SPA both in exercise and athletic contexts. Group variables examined were: group size, team cohesion, and individual vs. team competition. A secondary purpose was to examine further manifestations of SPA within an athletic context.;The primary and secondary purposes were tested using samples of 264 fitness participants, 97 female precision figure skaters, and 120 individual and team female skaters in Studies 1, 2, and 3 respectively. No relationship was found between SPA and perceptions of optimal or actual fitness class size in Study 1. Results of Study 2 revealed that female figure skaters higher in SPA reported using more self-protective behaviors than skaters lower in SPA. Perceptions of team cohesiveness were not found to moderate the SPA--reported self-protective behavior relationship. Results of Study 3 revealed skaters in individual vs. team competitions did not differ SPA. However, team competition was associated with reduced psychological manifestations of SPA compared to individual competition. Finally, the source of physique evaluation was not found to moderate the SPA--perceived consequences relationship. These studies were discussed with respect to group effects, the psychological protection provided by group membership, the correlates associated with heightened social physique anxiety, and the multidimensional nature of social physique anxiety.



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