Get fit, feel great, look amazing! Regulation of exercise behaviour and body image in women

Hurst, Megan (2015) Get fit, feel great, look amazing! Regulation of exercise behaviour and body image in women. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Exercising to improve one’s appearance has been consistently associated with negative body image (e.g., Tiggemann & Williamson, 2000). However, little is known about either the processes underlying this association, or the causal direction of the effects. This thesis draws upon both self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) and objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) in order to investigate the role of regulations for exercise and self-objectification in the link between appearance goals and body image.

The thesis examines both individual variations in these constructs, and their influences on body image among young women, utilising cross-sectional, longitudinal and experimental methodologies with both student samples and a community sample of gym-users (Chapter 2 and 3). It also considers factors in the exercise environment that can influence regulations of behaviour and feelings of self-objectification, using the physical education classes of adolescent girls as an exemplar (Chapter 4 and 5), drawing upon recent work on objectifying environments (Moffitt & Syzmanski, 2011) and the existing self-determination theory literature on motivation in physical education.

The four empirical papers highlight in particular the importance of introjected, or guilt-based, regulation in the link between appearance goals and negative body image, and illuminate the associations with self-objectification. Furthermore, they highlight the negative impact that an objectifying and non-autonomy supportive environment can have on girls’ engagement in and enjoyment of physical education, and on their body image. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, in relation to an integration of self-determination and objectification theories as well as the potential for autonomy-supportive, non-objectifying exercise interventions that de-emphasise guilt and emphasise the intrinsic value and joy of physical activity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0697 Differential psychology. Individuality. Self
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2015 11:57
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2015 11:57

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