were several people who supported me in such a way that I was able to complete
this thesis in a sane manner. First, and most importantly, I would like
to thank my family for allowing me to be where I am today. Specifically,
I would like to thank my sister, Kara, for taking the many hours to read
and revise all the different drafts of this thesis. I could not have done
it without all of your continued support and sense of humor! Thank you!
Also, I would like
to thank Professor Troisi and, especially Professor Ossoff, for their continued
support and tolerance during the past ten months. Your input and guidance
have allowed me to complete such a significant accomplishment.
Thank you to Coach
Petell, Coach Harring, Coach Vermette and Coach Dickson for being so cooperative
and allowing your players to participate in this thesis. To the members
of the softball,
basketball teams, thank you for being so willing to participate!
Finally, I would
like to thank my roommates, Kristy, Sonia, and Bethany, for their words
of encouragement and help along the way! This would not have been a sane
process without you guys!
All people develop their
own body image, which then directs their behavior, guides their activities,
and is strongly related to their ego identity. Research suggests the degree
to which people are satisfied with their bodies may have profound implications
for their self-perceptions and behaviors. For example, a positive body
image contributes to an individualís psychological well-being whereas as
a negative body image may lead to lower self-esteem,
higher social anxiety and intense self-consciousness. Exercise and fitness,
including athletics, have increasingly become significant components of
the American society. Whether individuals participate in athletics as a
means of becoming healthy or as a method of conforming to the societal
ideal body is unknown. However, athletes and nonathletes both feel the
pressure to attain the ideal body that is omnipresent in our society. The
present study will investigate body image satisfaction between athletes
In the present study, 50 athletes
(25 females and 25 males) comprising of the experimental group, and the
control group consisting of 37 nonathletes (20 females and 17 males) completed
the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale and the Body Esteem Scale
(BES) to see if there was a difference in body image satisfaction between
athletes and nonathletes. It was hypothesized that athletesí scores on
the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale would indicate that perceived
and ideal body images are much closer than those of nonathletes. It was
predicted that the scores on the BES would suggest that athletes have more
positive feelings regarding their bodies and body functions than nonathletes.
Through 2x2 analyses of
variance and Independent Samples t-tests, results indicated significance
for the variable of gender on the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating
Scale. Although significance was not obtained for the variable of athlete/nonathlete,
the means were moving in the predicted direction. Results also indicated
significance on the BES subscales of Physical Condition for women, and
Upper Body Strength and Physical Condition for men. The significance found
on the different dimensions of the BES corresponds with the hypothesis,
suggesting that athletes are more satisfied with these body parts or functions
than the nonathletes. The results of the present study also suggest that
males are more satisfied with their bodies than females. Methodological
concerns as well as suggestions for future research also are discussed.
degree to which people are satisfied with their bodies may have profound
implications for their self-perceptions and behaviors. Statistics indicate
that more people exercise on a regular basis now than ever before (Cash,
Novy & Grant, 1994), and the popularity of fitness centers, workout
videos and personal exercise equipment may be characteristic of a social
trend toward an increasing dedication to health and fitness. However, it
is not clear whether these circumstances are in response to the pursuit
of a healthy lifestyle or an exaggerated and narcissistic preoccupation
with physical appearance and body image (Davis, Claridge & Brewer,
The pressure on an athlete to meet weight
restrictions or to conform to a certain body type may come from a number
of different sources: society, peers, coaches and trainers, as well as
from the criteria used to judge different sports (Beals & Manor, 1994).
In addition to "looking good," athletesí bodies also have to be able to
perform well. Because the potential either to succeed or fail during a
competitive athletic performance has been related to body image, a negative
body image may adversely affect an athleteís performance (Davis, 1992).
The aim in the present study is to investigate whether there is an overall
difference in body image perception between athletes and nonathletes. It
is predicted that athletes will be more satisfied with their bodies, as
the results of the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale will show,
and that athletes will score higher than the nonathletes on the dimensions
of the Body Esteem Scale (BES).
Of primary importance in a study
such as this is the definition of "body image." As suggested by Parks
& Read (1997), body image is a complex phenomenon that includes physiological,
psychological and sociological components. Body image is a self-perception
all people develop that directs behavior, guides activities and is strongly
related to ego identity (Wiggins & Moode, 2000). Each person develops
an opinion of his/her image in a different way. Understanding how the image
is formed is necessary to understand how and why people engage in specific
behaviors, be they productive or counterproductive. A positive body image
is essential to an individualís psychological well-being as a negative
body image may lead to lower self-esteem, higher social anxiety and intense
self-consciousness (Cash, 1994).
Botta (1999) proposed that
three components constitute body image. First, the perception component
is how a person visualizes the size and shape of his/her body. Second,
the attitudinal component is how a person thinks about his/her body, both
cognitively and affectivity, and how committed he/she is to a "thin ideal."
Third, the behavioral component is the behavior a person engages in, such
as restrained eating; bingeing and purging; excessive exercise; and/or
dieting to maintain the perceived ideal image (Botta, 1999).
Slade (1988) defined body
image as the picture in our minds of the size, shape and form of our bodies,
as well as our feelings concerning these characteristics and our body parts.
He (1994) proposed seven factors that influence the development and manifestation
of body image. Each of the seven now will be discussed briefly.
The first is history of
sensory input to body exposure. Throughout his/her life span, an individual
receives sensory input of a visual, tactile and kinesthetic nature on the
form, size, shape and appearance of his/her body. This input is not fixed
but varies over time, and the individual stores this data and uses it to
shape the general mental representations of the body (Slade, 1994).
Second, an individualís
history of weight change/fluctuation influences body image. Anorectics
and the obese appear to have the most variable body image. These people,
who are most likely to have experienced major changes in weight, are viewed
as having a more defined view of body image (Slade, 1994). Research by
Davis and Fox (1993) suggests that women who are highly weight-preoccupied
(e.g., obese and anorectics) also report a greater degree of body focus
than women who are not weight-preoccupied. In addition, weight-preoccupied
women tend to report more negative attitudes concerning body shape and
Third, cultural and social
norms also affect body image. Concerns about body image traditionally
have been thought to be a female preoccupation. Cultural, sexual and social
differences in the prevalence of eating disorders in women have been well-established
(McCarthy, 1990). In addition, evidence shows that women with eating disorders
are more likely to be influenced by images of thin body types portrayed
in the media (Slade, 1994). However, societal and cultural trends suggest
that body image concerns also may affect males. The adolescent male is
vulnerable to the pressure to attain the "ideal" male body. This ideal
includes a masculine physique (V-shaped), height and muscularity, all combined
into a mesomorphic build (Koff, Rierdan & Stubbs, 1990).
Related to this issue of
cultural influences, some researchers have shown that the sociocultural
pressure to be thin is the strongest influence on body image (Thompson,
1990). Nassarís (1988) study concluded the rate of eating disorders is
lower in non-Western cultures, where being thin is not particularly valued.
This Western value on a smaller body shape may serve to sharpen individual
attitudes toward ideal body size and shape.
The fourth factor involves
individual attitudes about weight and shape, which influence the perceived
ideal body image. Studies in the United States (Whitaker, Davies, Shaffer,
Johnson, Abrams, Walsh & Kalikow, 1989) have shown that between 60%
and 70% of 17-year-old females admit to dieting during the previous year,
compared to only 20% of same-aged males. In addition, Whitaker et al. (1989)
found that 84% of the 17-year-old girls desired to lose weight compared
to only 40% of boys of the same age. This research suggests that girls
in Western societies are much more concerned with conforming to the "ideal
body size" than boys.
Fifth, cognitive and affective
variables, such as caloric intake, also have been found to influence body
size judgments (Thompson, Coovert, Pasman & Robb, 1993). Experimental
procedures have compared the body image estimates of those with eating
disorders and those without with two main instructional conditions: "cognitive"
(make your judgments according to how you THINK you look) and "affective"
(make your judgments according to how you FEEL you look). In these studies,
there is a remarkable consistency in the results. In all the studies, participants
with eating disorders exhibited a significantly greater overestimation
of body size in response to the "cognitive" instructions when compared
to the "affective" instructions (Proctor & Morely, 1986; Franzen, Florin,
Schneider & Meier, 1988; Robinson, Brodie, Dewey & Slade, 1994).
Slade (1994) also suggested
individual psychopathology as a sixth issue influencing body image. In
addition, psychopathology almost certainly influenced by many of the other
variables outlined above, for example, cultural and social norms, as well
as individual attitudes to weight and shape.
Lastly, also it is important
not to dismiss the seventh factor, the possible effect biological factors
have on influencing personal body image. As reported by Slade (1994), a
significant correlation exits between basal metabolic rate and body image
disturbance (BID). Slade concluded that bulimia leads to a lower metabolic
rate, which is experienced as "sluggishness." He also found that BID contributes
to feelings of "fatness" (Slade, 1994). In order for the scientific world
to better understand why people try to alter their bodies, more research
must be done on biological factors that influence personal body image.
Athletes are not immune
to feeling the effects of Sladeís (1994) seven factors. These factors make
their influence known in everything from feedback and instructions from
coaches and trainers (sensory input), to any weight changes in the off-season
(weight fluctuation), to interacting with the everyday world (cultural
and social norms, and individual attitudes) and what type of environment
the athlete was raised is (biological supports). Also coming into play
is how an athlete thinks about his/her environment and body (psychopathology),
which can lead to changes in caloric intake (cognitive and effective variables).
These seven factors that
influence body image development are useful in understanding how males
and females differ in their self-perceptions of their bodies. In a study
conducted by Hoffman & Brownell (1997), data suggest that weight may
be more important in male body dissatisfaction, while shape may play a
larger role in female body dissatisfaction. As mentioned in Koff et al.
(1990), females tend to view their bodies as a means of attracting others,
while males tend to perceive their bodies primarily as a means of effectively
operating in the external environment. With such diverse assumptions, conscious
and unconscious, about how the body functions, it is expected that men
and women have different body images. Research suggests that men and women
differ in two key aspects of body image satisfaction: 1. the factors that
create body image satisfaction and 2. the dimensions of body image dissatisfaction
(Silberstein, Striegal-Moore, Timko & Rodin, 1988). The present study
will examine whether engaging in athletics is a significant factor in the
development of positive or negative body-image satisfaction.
One of the tools researchers
have used to identify and measure body image satisfaction is the Body Esteem
Scale (BES) (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). Franzoi and Shields (1984) showed
that when people evaluate their own bodies, this evaluation is not done
merely on the basis of global assessment (e.g., "I like or dislike my body,")
but rather people evaluate their bodies in terms of distinct dimensions.
The BES is constructed on the basis of factor analysis identifying three
distinct dimensions or subscales for both men and women.
Addressing women first,
body esteem appears to have three primary components. The first deals with
the bodyís aspects or functions that seem to be associated with physical
attractiveness. This is known as the Sexual Attractiveness Subscale (Franzoi
& Shields, 1984). The body parts that are dependent on this factor
are those that involve the appearance/size of the body and generally cannot
be changed through exercise, only through the use of cosmetics. This factor
suggests that a womanís sense of her attractiveness includes the evaluation
of her own sexuality (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). Koff et al. (1990)
suggest that the more a female believes that she can use her body as a
means of attracting others, the more she will value or be satisfied with
her body. For a female to anticipate or experience success in attracting
others, she has to perceive her body as approximating the cultural standards
of attractiveness. As girls reach puberty, however, their bodies physically
begin to change from the lean body image that is currently the social ideal.
This sets the stage for females to become less satisfied with their bodies
as they mature and begin to deviate from the social norm. This may be one
reason why a female decides to participate in athletics or exercise. Anorectics
may use activity, such as food deprivation, as a conscious method of weight
loss in an effort to obtain the lean body image that many desire (Davis,
Fox, Cowles, Hastings & Schwass, 1990). Davis et al., (1990) go further
and suggest that the pursuit of physical fitness by those who promote exercise
propaganda, meaning that very thin is very healthy, have created a group
of women who are of normal weight but who have an exaggerated concern with
weight control. The same can be said of athletes ? these people also are
exposed to the same messages, which may be augmented by the pressure from
their coaches, trainers and peers to obtain a certain weight level. These
constant messages may be having an effect on body image satisfaction or
dissatisfaction, as present study aims to identify.
The second factor, the
Weight Concern Subscale, also pertains to physical appearance. This factor
includes the body parts that can be physically altered through exercise
or controlled food intake. The body parts that constitute this factor are
the parts that are most objectified by men in our culture as defining female
sexuality (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). The Weight Concern Subscale had
the lowest correlation with self-esteem, possibly reflecting the dissatisfaction
many women express about their own weight, regardless of other self-satisfactions
(Franzoi & Shields, 1984).
The third component of
female body esteem, the Physical Condition Subscale, is composed of items
that pertain to stamina, strength and agility. These characteristics typically
are not subject to public scrutiny unless the situation is one where such
qualities are demonstrated and assessed. An athletic contest is a good
example of such a situation (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). It is arguable
that all athletes and coaches recognize the important relationship between
weight and optimal performance. In all sports, a weight that is greater
than the healthy maximum limits speed, endurance and agility, as well as
contributes to increases in fatigue (Smith, 1980). The present study will
address issues relating to this component of body image.
Similar to women, menís
view of body esteem also appears to have three primary factors. The first,
the Physical Attractiveness Subscale, relates to the facial features and
aspects of the physique (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). These characteristics
largely determine whether a man is judged as handsome or "good looking."
It also is important to mention that in contrast to the Female Sexual Attractiveness
Subscale, all items on the male subscale are body parts and not body functions.
This component includes sex organs, but not sex activities or sex drive,
suggesting that sexuality is less central to young menís feelings of attractiveness
than to young womenís (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). Research has examined
the relationship between dissatisfaction and body size (Silberstein et
al., 1988), concluding that the term "underweight" appears to have a different
meaning for the two sexes. As cited in Silberstein et al. (1988), underweight
men seem unhappy with their body weight, whereas underweight women appear
A manís self-assessment
of virility is the second aspect of body esteem in men, the Upper Body
Strength Subscale. This constitutes upper body parts and body functions
that can be changed through exercise (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). The
male body parts that fall into this category include those that are desired
to be bigger and more broad, not trim. These body parts and functions are
associated with our cultureís view of "manly vigor," and this factor may
reflect menís self-assessment of virility (Franzoi & Shields, 1984).
Unlike the changes a female experiences during puberty, the valued attributes
of the masculine physique (tallness and muscularity) become more desirable
as the male experiences puberty. Therefore, it is suggested that men become
more satisfied with their body appearance as their bodies mature (Koff
et al., 1990).
The final factor that shapes
male body esteem is the Physical Condition Subscale. This resembles the
womenís scale of the same name in that it reflects an individualís feelings
about his/her stamina, strength and agility. However, there are differences
between the gendersí scales. For example, waists, appetites and the appearance
of stomachs, which are on the Weight Concern Subscale for women, appear
on the Physical Condition Subscale for men (Franzoi & Shields, 1984).
It appears that men associate these body parts and functions not with how
they and others assess them as static objects, but with how they help or
hinder physical activity (Franzoi & Shields, 1984). One aspect of the
present study will examine if athletes have a higher score on the Physical
Condition Subscale because the body parts and functions of this factor
relate to helping or hindering physical activity, in this case, participating
in a sport.
In the past researchers
tried to measure this style of thinking using the Body Size Drawing (BSD),
which was developed by Fallon & Rozin (1985) and consists of nine drawings
of a female figure (used for female subjects) or a male figure (for male
subjects). Each drawing gradually increases in body size from extremely
thin to very obese. In the test developed by Fallon and Rozin (1985), subjects
are asked to select the number of the drawing that best represents their
current appearance (perceived figure) and to indicate the number of the
drawing that represents what they ideally want to look like (ideal figure).
Body dissatisfaction that results from a discrepancy between perceived
and ideal body image is often emphasized, and even normalized, by cultural
standards of physical attractiveness (Davis, Fox, Brewer & Ratusny,
1996). For example, the cultural ideal for women in industrialized societies
equates thinness with success and beauty, but this standard conflicts with
factors (such as improvements in nutrition and health care) that have made
the average female today heavier than she was just 25 years ago (Furnham,
Titman & Sleeman, 1994). When perceived/ideal discrepancies exist for
bodily aspects that are perceived as changeable (e.g., weight), dissatisfaction
often provokes efforts to close the perceived-ideal gap (Silberstein et
However, there have been
many methodological concerns of using tests such as this to assess body
image. In applied research, most constructs of interest are continuous
while the actual number of options available on response scales is often
discrete. In assessing body image using silhouette drawings, body size
is a continuous variable measured by asking subjects to select one of a
number of drawings (Gardner, Friedman & Jackson, 1998). The first major
problem with silhouette measures is called "scale coarseness" (Gardner
et al., 1998; Gardner, Stark, Jackson & Friedman, 1999). This is a
result of the Likert-type rating scales that force subjects to select an
answer from the possibilities. Additionally, on typical silhouette scales,
the silhouettes are presented on a single sheet of paper, with the figures
arranged in ascending size from right to left. Participants typically are
instructed to mark the silhouette they think represents their perceived
size and then their ideal size. This technique poses a problem because
participants have little difficulty remembering which of the small number
of figures they previously marked, producing false high test-retest reliability,
and possibly influencing the selection of the ideal body image figure.
Therefore, alternative methods and further research are necessary. The
present study will use figural drawing on independent note cards in an
effort to reduce confounding variables.
Research involving sport team
and exercise participants has found that participation in sports contributes
to psychological well-being (Cash, Winstead & Janda, 1986) and also
provides individuals with a more realistic sense of body image (Rossi &
The desire to achieve the perceived
ideal body image may persuade some adolescents to participate in athletics
in general. However, there are situations where the individualís body type
may provide the motive for the selection of a particular sport (e.g., mesomorphs
may tend to select football) (Parks & Read, 1997). Regardless of whether
a sport is selected as a result of a natural body type or as a way to achieve
a desired body type, there are cases where the "ideal" and the "actual"
body types will not or cannot coincide. For example, it may be more difficult
for an individual with a more mesomorphic build, such as a football player,
to participate in gymnastics. It is difficult for an individual in that
situation to have an identical "actual" and "ideal" body image. When conflict
arises, athletes and nonathletes may go to extremes to resolve that conflict.
Some individuals may use anabolic steroids or nutritional supplements to
help themselves bulk up or become bigger, which is ideal for males (Beltz
& Doering, 1993). On the other extreme, individuals who perceive themselves
too big may employ weight-loss techniques to help them attempt to attain
their ideal body image. In fact, in the United States, 33%-40% of adult
women are trying to lose weight, and dieting is the most commonly used
weight loss strategy (Lindeman, 1998). In addition, conservative estimates
suggest that 1 out of 100 females is anorexic and 3 out of 100 are bulimic
(American Psychiatric Assocation, 1994). A negative body image may be related
to health problems and eating disorders; therefore, it is a concern that
a negative body image may adversely affect an athleteís performance (Wiggins
& Moode, 2000).
In a study conducted by
Parks & Read (1997), male runners and male football players were asked
to give some of the reasons why they exercise. Among the reasons given
were weight control, fitness, mood, health, attractiveness, tone and enjoyment.
The football players tended to rate fitness, mood, health and attractiveness
as more important reasons for exercise than the runners.
In this same study, 80%
of the football players desired an increase in body weight, 15% wanted
to lose weight and 5% were satisfied with their current weight. On the
contrary, 37% of the cross country runners were satisfied with their current
weight, whereas 21% desired to gain weight and 20% wanted to lose weight
(Parks & Read, 1997). This suggests that the mesopmorphic male athlete
is continually looking to become "bigger." Likewise, 21% of the male cross
country runners were looking to gain weight. This is important because
it suggests that many male athletes are looking to become more mesomorphic
and gain weight to obtain the culturally desired figure. This is of significance
to the present study as Franzoiís BES will measure the male athletes and
nonathletes scores using the Physical Attractiveness, Upper Body Strength,
and Physical Condition subscales. These scores will identify how satisfied
the athletes and nonathletes are with their bodies. Also, the Thirteen
Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale will indicate if the male athletes
and nonathletes desire a body build larger than the build they perceive
themselves as having.
Although a large number
of football players desired a weight gain in Parks and Read's 1997 study,
they still reported more positive responses for body satisfaction, as well
as more positive attitudes and behaviors toward eating and weight control
than the cross country runners (Parks & Read, 1997). The football players
averaged a weight 37 pounds greater than the cross country runners, possibly
suggesting football players have a greater mesomorphic build, which also
is perceived as the male ideal body type (Parks & Read, 1997). Although
cross country running requires a leaner build, the cultural belief that
males should have a muscular body places the runner in conflict. It has
been suggested that education is needed to help runners accept and value
their body types as well as to avoid eating disorders as a response to
body satisfaction (Parks & Read, 1997). Although the present study
focuses not on cross country runners or football players specifically,
understanding that conflict does arise within any individual when the perceived
and ideal body image differs is important. The results of this study will
indicate the presence of any difference between the perceived and ideal
body type between athletes (defined in this study as individuals who currently
participate in a collegiate sport) and nonathletes (defined in this study
as individuals who have never participated in a sport or have not participated
in a sport since sophomore year in high school). Within individuals, the
greater discrepancy between the perceived and ideal body type may be predictive
of future behaviors of an individual.
Female athletes also are
not immune from such feelings of conflict. The well-established performance
advantages of being thin and the fact that extreme slenderness currently
depicts our cultural ideal of female sexual attractiveness are likely to
create a stronger body image dissatisfaction and equally strong incentives
to reduce body fat to very low levels among female athletes (Davis, 1992).
Although good diet and exercise lead to an improvement in cardiovascular
health, evidence suggests that, particularly with women, exercise and sport
are used for weight control and enhanced physical attractiveness rather
than for health benefits (Garner, Olmstead, Polivy & Garfinkel, 1984).
Research has shown that a female athleteís body image and self-perception
affects her everyday choices. For example, body image and self-perception
all have been shown to influence the choices a female athlete makes regarding
diet, health and exercise (Wiggins & Moode, 2000). Female athletes
participating in a variety of sports (although gymnasts and figure skaters
receive the most publicity) are aware of what they perceive to be the advantages
to their performance if they reduce their body weight (Rosen, McKeag, Hough
& Curley, 1986). In reality, athletes in intensive training may require
up to five times more than the normal daily caloric consumption, depending
on the sport and the degree of exertion. However, many athletes do not
consume the healthy caloric intake in their quest to remain thin (Davis
& Cowles, 1989).
In contrast to the "thin
is better" heuristic, a more recent study (Lenart, Goldberg, Bailey, Dallal
& Koff, 1995) found that female athletes at the university level increasingly
prefer a body shape that is more muscular or mesomorphic combined with
the ectomorphic physiques traditionally favored. While the desire for smaller
hips and thighs remains strong, there is an increased interest in broader
shoulders and more muscular arms, all items measured on the BES. This increasing
societal trend in a body shape that is more mesomorphic may be more difficult
for nonathletes to obtain and therefore may lead to conflict between the
perceived and ideal image.
The increased preference
for a more athletic ideal by both athletes and nonathletes may lead to
the conclusion that much of the way women view their bodies is set largely
by the sociocultural norms of society, and not by personal patterns of
activity (Lenart et al., 1995). This will be measured in the present study
on the Sexual Attractiveness and Weight Concern Subscales. Scores on the
BES and Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale will indicate how
female athletes and nonathletes feel about different aspects of their body,
and perhaps may lead to the conclusion that all females are striving for
the same ideal body image, one that is defined by society.
Understanding the literature
regarding athletes and nonathletes as well as their perceptions of body
image is vital to this study. Research suggests that those who engage in
sports, physical exercise or athletic competition do achieve altered perceptions
of body esteem. After evaluating the literature, it is hypothesized that
athletes, both male and female, generally will have more positive perceptions
of their physical condition and body image than nonathletes.
1. Athlete Group
Fifty athletes participating
in Division II athletics (menís and womenís basketball, softball, and baseball)
at a small liberal arts college in the Northeast volunteered to participate
in this study. The average age of the subjects was 20.4 years. The composition
of the group was as follows:
Womenís basketball players: 13
Menís basketball players:
Womenís softball players:
Menís baseball players:
In the case of all the athletes, the author made
contact with the coaches, who agreed to allow their athletes to participate.
The athletes completed the questionnaires individually with the author
either at practice or in a team-meeting setting. All athletes who were
approached volunteered to participate.
2. The Nonathlete Group
(17 male and 20 female) from a small liberal arts college in the Northeast
participated in this study. Twenty-one participants completed the questionnaires
for course credit, while sixteen participants volunteered. The average
age of participants was 19.6 years. Participants either had never been
involved in a sport or had not been involved in a sport since their sophomore
years in high school.
1. Demographic Information
All participants were asked
to complete three questions about themselves before completing the surveys.
Both the athletes and the nonathletes answered questions regarding their
gender and their year of graduation. The athletes were asked what sport
they participated in, while the nonathletes answered a Likert question
regarding how much they exercised a week ranging from 1 (<30 minutes)
to 6 (10+ hours) (see Appendix A).
2. The Body Esteem Scale (BES)
The BES (Franzoi &
Shields, 1984) is a multidimensional measure that is appropriate for use
by men and women. During the development of the BES, Franzoi and Shields
(1984) reported that people do not appraise their own bodies or reflect
on their body image from a holistic basis. Instead, a person evaluating
his/her body does so based on individual and diverse perceptions of his/her
bodyís characteristics. Therefore, this scale provides three subscores
rather than a single overall score. The BES has 35 items (e.g., body scent,
muscular strength, waist, chin, body build, sex drive, physical condition,
face) in a Likert format and uses a 5 point response format, anchored by
1 ("I have strong negative feelings") and 5 ("I have strong positive feelings").
Scores are summed for each of the three subscales, with higher individual
scores indicating a more positive perception of body esteem on that particular
dimension (see Appendix B).
The BES possesses acceptable
internal reliability (Franzoi & Shields, 1984) with coefficient alpha
subscale scores of .78 for Sexual Attractiveness Subscale, .87 for Weight
Concern Subscale, and .82 for Physical Condition Subscale regarding females.
For males, the measure of internal consistency resulted in alpha coefficients
of .81 for the Physical Attractiveness Subscale, .85 for the Upper Body
Strength Subscale, and .86 for the Physical Condition Subscale. Based on
these scores, it can be concluded that the responses for each subscale
are reasonably internally consistent (Franzoi & Shields, 1984).
In order to provide an
estimate of the scaleís convergent validity, it was administered along
with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) to 44 undergraduate
males and 78 undergraduate females. Adequate convergent validity was indicated
by correlations ranging from .32 to .51 between BES scores and scores from
Rosenbergís Self-Esteem Scale (Franzoi & Shields, 1984).
3. Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale
This scale, developed by
Gardner et al., (1999) requires participants to select one of 13 figural
drawings that depict the participantís perceived and ideal body image.
The figures used in this scale were created based on the average height
and weight data from the National Center for Health Statistics (1987) for
American males and females age 19. These statistics showed both the average
and median height of an American adult male to be 69.1 inches (SD=2.8).
Average weight was 172.2 lb. (SD=29.8), while the median was 169.60 lb.
Average and median height of an American female was 63.7 inches (SD=2.6).
Average female weight was 144.2 lb. (SD=32.3) while the median was 137.8
lb. Contour drawings of a median adult male and female were created by
tracing an outline of the photograph of the "average" male and female.
In the construction of the drawings, any detailed depiction of clothing,
hair, facial features or muscular definition was avoided deliberately,
as such details may distract the subject from concentrating exclusively
on the size of the figures. In addition, such characteristics may be inappropriate
for subjects of different ethnic groups. The width of the drawings was
increased and decreased by 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 25%, and 30% to create
a 13-card scale. The figures' height was held constant at 3.15 inches.
Separate sets of male and female figures were printed on 4x6 inch cards
(see Appendix C). The order of the 13 figural contours was randomized,
reducing the participants' the chance of memorizing the position of previous
The center of this scale
represented the undistorted size corresponding to the U.S. median weight
of 169.6 pounds for men and 137.8 pounds for women (Gardner et al., 1999).
Because the figures represent a range of +/- 30% in 5% equal interval increments,
it is possible to convert each subjectís score to a percent distortion
from the median and to a weight value. For example, a male subject who
selected the +10% card made a judgement that his body size is 10% larger
than the median male. This translates to a weight figure 110% of the median,
or 186.56 pounds (169.6 pounds x 1.10).
(r = .87) over three weeks for this scale was very high. The correlation
was also significant (p<.0005) and exceeded Nunnallyís (1970) criterion
of .70 as a minimally acceptable reliability coefficient for a psychometrically
Validity of the scale was
examined by the correspondence between an individualís reported weight
and current self-ratings. A test for the difference between dependent correlations
(Brunning & Kintz, 1977) indicated no significant differences in correlations
(t97 = 3.04, p<.01) between scores on the Stunkard scale and the 13-card
scale, indicating that the scale is equally valid as estimates of actual
weight. Similar correlations were obtained for weight (r81 = .62, p<.0005)
and Body Mass Index (r81 = .70, p<.0005) (Gardner et al., 1999).
Upon arrival, the participant
was met by a female experimenter and seated. After telling the participant
that this was an experiment on body image and would involve two surveys,
the experimenter handed the participant a consent form and requested that
the participant review and sign the form. After the participant gave his/her
consent, the experimenter handed the participant a sheet of paper with
the two questionnaires and instructed the participant to complete the basic
demographic information. After completing the demographic information,
the experimenter instructed handed the individual a set of 13 cards containing
figures of different sizes. The participant was instructed to look through
the cards and write down the number of the card that looked most like him/herself.
The cards were given back to the experimenter. The participant was given
a new set of cards composed of the same figures in a different order and
asked to write down the number of the card that he/she wished to looked
like. Upon completing this, the participant completed the Body Esteem Scale.
See Appendix D for experimental script. After a complete debriefing (see
Appendix E), the participant was thanked for his/her participation and
was free to leave.
2x2 analyses of variance and Independent Samples t-tests were conducted
to evaluate the relationship of the effect of being an athlete on body
image. Two levels of two independent variables, gender and athlete/nonathlete,
were examined. The dependent variables were the perceived and ideal body
image scores from the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawings Rating Scale, as
well as the scores on the different dimensions of the BES.
After hand-scoring all
data, 2x2 analyses of variance were conducted on each of the dependent
variables. A p-value of less than or equal to .05, for a confidence level
of 95%, was used to determine statistical significance.
Perceived Body Image. The ANOVA for perceived body
image revealed a significant effect for gender F(3, 83)=37.682, p=.000
(see Table 1).
Analysis of Variance: Dependent Variable of Perceived Body Image
A test of Between-Subjects Effects
Sum of Squares
ATHLETE + GENDER 28.486
*Computed using alpha = .05
R Squared = .042 (Adjusted R Squared = .008)
The means for the male athlete (perceived m=162.08
pounds, ideal m=175.37 pounds), suggest that the male athlete wishes that
he were bigger than he perceives himself. Means for the male nonathlete,
however, (perceived m=172.09 pounds, ideal m=176.59 pounds) do not suggest
a great amount of body dissatisfaction. The mean scores for the female
athlete on her perceived body image (m=131.74 pounds) and nonathlete (m=138.83
pounds), and the ideal score for the female athlete (m=114.10 pounds) and
nonathlete (m=121.08 pounds) suggest that both female athletes and nonathletes
wish their bodies were much smaller than their perceived bodies (see Tables
2 and 3).
Means and Standard Deviations for
Perceived Body Image Scores from the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating
Means and Standard Deviations for
Ideal Body Image Scores from the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating
Ideal Body Image. The results from the ANOVA on the
ideal body image dimension revealed a significant effect for gender, F(3,
83)=235.417, p=.000 (see Table 4). The means indicate that male athletes
and nonathletes have nearly identical ideal body images, suggesting that
all men, regardless of if they play a sport, idealize the same body image.
The means of the femalesí scores on ideal body image indicate that both
athletes and nonathletes desire a body image much smaller than the average.
The difference between the means of the ideal body image for female athletes
and nonathletes was 6.98 pounds, suggesting that athletesí and nonathletesí
ideal body images do not vary in large amounts.
Analysis of Variance: Dependent Variable
of Ideal Body Image
A test of Between-Subjects Effects
df Mean Square
Sum of Squares
ATHLETE + GENDER 374.946
*Computed using alpha = .05
R Squared = .042 (Adjusted R Squared = .008)
Independent Samples t-tests.
Independent Samples t-tests were conducted on the
dependent variables of the BES to see if there were any significant differences
between athletes and nonathletes within each gender: the Sexual Attractiveness,
Weight Concern and Physical Condition Subscales for females; and Physical
Attractiveness, Upper Body Strength and Physical Condition Subscales for
Female Scores on the BES. The Independent Samples
t-tests on the female scores on the BES revealed significant differences
between athletes and nonathletes on the Physical Condition Subscale (p=.008),
as expected. However, no statistical significance for the other two subscales
(Sexual Attractiveness p=.253 and Weight Concern p=.319) was found (see
Independent Samples t-test Summary
for Female Scores on the Body Esteem Scale
Sexual Attractiveness Subscale
Weight Concern Subscale
Physical Condition Subscale
*computed using alpha=.05
It was predicted that athletes would score higher
on the dimensions of the BES than the nonathletes, suggesting that athletes
have more positive feelings regarding their bodies.
In support of that prediction, the means for the
Weight Concern Subscale (athlete=27.36, nonathlete=25.20) show movement
in the predicted direction (see Table 6).
Group Statistics: Means and Standard
Deviations for Female Scores on the Body Esteem Scale
Mean Std. Deviation
Sexual Attractiveness Subscale: Athlete
Weight Concern Subscale:
Physical Condition Subscale:
Sexual Attractiveness out of a possible 65.
Weight Concern out of a possible 50.
Physical Condition out of a possible 45.
Male Scores on the BES. Independent Samples t-tests
on the male scores between athletes and nonathletes on the BES revealed
significance on the dimensions of Upper Body Strength (p=.017) and Physical
Condition (p=.002) (see Table 7).
Independent Samples t-test
Summary for Male Scores on the Body Esteem Scale
Physical Attractiveness Subscale
Upper Body Strength Subscale
Physical Condition Subscale
*computed using alpha=.05
It was predicted that athletes would score higher
than nonathletes on the dimensions of the BES, suggesting that athletes
have more positive feelings regarding their bodies. The significance on
the dimensions of the Upper Body Strength and Physical Condition Subscales
of the BES was as expected. The means for the Upper Body Strength (athlete=34.56,
nonathlete=30.35) and Physical Condition (athlete=50.84, nonathlete=43.24)
re-emphasize this significance (see Table 8).
Group Statistics: Means and Standard
Deviations for Male Scores on the Body Esteem Scale
Physical Attractiveness Subscale: Athlete
Upper Body Strength Subscale: Athlete
Physical Condition Subscale:
Physical Attractiveness out of a possible 55.
Upper Body Strength out of a possible 45.
Physical Condition out of a possible 65.
purpose of this study was to examine the differences in body image satisfaction
between athletes and nonathletes. It was hypothesized that athletesí scores
on the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scaleís dimensions of perceived
body image and ideal body image would be closer, suggesting that athletes
are more satisfied with their bodies than their nonathlete counterparts.
It also was predicted that athletes would score higher on the dimensions
of the Body Esteem Scale (BES), which would strengthen the evidence suggesting
athletes are more satisfied with their bodies. Although the primary hypothesis
was not supported, results show some effects for the athlete/nonathlete
variable in the predicted direction, as well as a significant effect for
gender. In agreement with other research, this study found that gender
is a significant predictor of dissatisfaction with body shape (Drewnowski
& Yee, 1987).
The lack of significant relationships
between the variable of athlete and nonathlete allows for an explanation.
Because the means were moving in the predicted direction, it is possible
to inquire about why athletes have a more positive body image than nonathletes.
Athletes had to measure up to tough standards to make the team; this accomplishment
may provide a kind of reinforcement of good feelings about oneís body.
On the other hand, nonathletes may have been cut from an athletic team
at one point and time, and may have understood this as a response to their
body type, consequently a reinforcement of negative feelings. In addition,
when an athlete performs well, the reinforcement he/she receives may be
thought of as reinforcement to how he/she looks. An individual may attribute
his/her positive performance to his/her body type, or, may even contribute
a negative performance to how he/she looks (Huddy, Nieman & Johnson,
1993). This reinforcement may come from coaches, trainers, parents, peers,
and even audiences observing the performance. Nonathletes do not receive
the same reinforcement. Instead, the nonathlete may often find him/herself
comparing his/her figure with that of athletes or other highly publicized
individuals. Accordingly, a nonathlete may feel more unsatisfied with his/her
body as there is not any positive reinforcement for him/her. In general,
athletes may be more likely to feel better about themselves and score relatively
high on body image scales, possibly as a result of their body image being
more closely tied to their athletic accomplishments than to physical attributes.
The lack of significance on the variable of athlete/nonathlete in the present
study may be attributed to the small, unrepresentative population used
in this study, to be discussed later.
Results of the present
study did not indicate a significant difference between athletes and nonathletes
on the variable of perceived or ideal body image; however, significance
was found on the variable of gender. Although the male nonathlete perceives
himself to weigh almost 10 pounds more than the male athlete, male athletes
and nonathletes have an ideal body image that is almost identical, only
1.22 pounds higher for the male nonathlete. As hypothesized, this research
suggests that males, both athletes and nonathletes, strive to have relatively
a similiar body physique, one that is bigger than how they currently perceive
themselves. It is important to recognize that the scale these scores is
based on uses an average weight of 169.6 pounds. This indicates that, overall,
malesí perceived and ideal body types in this study are not far from the
average. These results are consistent with the literature which suggests
that the adolescent male is vulnerable to the pressure to attain the ideal
male body. This ideal includes a masculine physique (V-shaped), tallness,
and muscularity (mesomorphic build) (Koff et al., 1990)
Results of the female scores
show a much different pattern. The female scores are based upon an average
weight of 137.8 pounds. The drastic difference of 17.64 pounds between
perceived and ideal body image for female athletes is consistent with the
literature suggesting the concern with body image among high-performance
athletes may be greater than among their nonathlete counterparts (Davis,
1992). Another radical statistic is that these female athletes wish themselves
to look 23 pounds smaller than the average individual. This research may
add support to the possible pressures female athletes experience to minimize
body fat to very low levels (Davis, 1992).
The results of the female
nonathletesí scores on perceived body image suggest that the female nonathletes
perceive themselves as almost identical to the average female. However,
the female nonathletes also show a dramatic difference between their perceived
and ideal body images.
The BES was administered to provide
support for the findings of the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating
Scale, and in fact the scores of the different dimensions did. Results
indicated significance on the Physical Condition Subscale for women, suggesting
that athletes are more satisfied with their bodies in regard to stamina,
strength and agility than their nonathlete counterparts. Items on the Physical
Condition Subscale include physical stamina, reflexes, muscular strength,
energy level, biceps, physical coordination, agility, health and physical
condition. However, no significance was found for women on the other two
dimensions of the BES: the Sexual Attractiveness Subscale and the Weight
The Sexual Attractiveness
Subscale is composed of body parts or functions that involve the appearance/size
of the body and generally cannot be changed through exercise, only through
the use of cosmetics. For example, body scent, nose, lips, ears, chin,
chest, appearance of eyes, cheekbones, sex drive, sex organs, sex activities,
body hair and face cannot be altered through exercise. Therefore, the absence
of significance on this dimension can be explained as both athletes and
nonathletes feel the same pressure to conform to the societal ideal, without
any real way to do so as this dimension cannot be changed by exercise.
Although no significance was found regarding this dimension, the means
suggest that neither the athletes or the nonathletes were satisfied with
their bodies in regard to this dimension.
In contrast, the body parts
that comprise of the Weight Concern Subscale can be physically altered
through exercise or controlled food intake. For instance, items on this
scale include appetite, waist, thighs, body build, buttocks, hips, legs,
figure/physique, stomach and weight. Again, the absence of significance
on this dimension was not unanticipated as the items on this dimension
are the body parts that are most objectified by men in our culture as defining
female sexuality. The means here show that women in this study, athletic
or not, are not satisfied with their bodies and feel the pressure to conform
to the often unrealistic figure that emphasizes thinness.
Not unexpectedly, the male
athletes scored much higher on the Upper Body Strength Subscale than their
nonathlete counterparts. This significance was predicted as the Upper Body
Strength Subscale is composed of muscular strength, biceps, body build,
physical coordination, width of shoulders, arms, chest, figure/physique,
and sex drive. The majority of these factors can be changed through exercise,
and are idealized to be bigger and more broad. It is evident that athletes
have stronger positive feelings regarding body parts and functions such
Just as the male athletes
showed significance on the Upper Body Strength Subscale, significance also
was found on the Physical Condition Subscale. The Physical Condition Subscale
is composed of the following body parts and functions: appetite, physical
stamina, reflexes, waist, energy level, thighs, physical coordination,
agility, figure/physique, appearance of stomach, health, physical condition,
and weight. These parts and functions of the body are defined as being
able to help or hinder physical activity and soley as static objects, hence,
they have a more significant purpose for the athletes. Once again, as predicted,
the athletes scored higher on this scale than the nonathletes.
The only male dimension
of the BES that did not show any significance was the Physical Attractiveness
Subscale. This subscale relates to the facial features and aspects of a
manís physique, such as nose, lips, ears, chin, buttocks, appearance of
eyes, cheeks, hips, feet, sex organs and face. These characteristics tend
to determine if a man is judged as handsome. Again, the reason that significance
may not be present on this dimension of the BES in the present study may
relate to the fact that both the athletes and the nonathletes feel the
same pressure to obtain the culturally defined image. This is evident when
looking at the average scores between male athletes and nonathletes. These
findings are consistent with the literature suggesting that in addition
to the athletes, the nonathletes also are attempting to obtain a more mesomorphic
build and gain weight to obtain the culturally desired figure (Parks &
Although there were many
dimensions of this study where significance was found, some relationships
might have been stronger had there been a larger population of participants
to draw from. In fact, because such a small population was available, some
participants who labeled themselves as nonathletes - meaning they had never
participated in a sport or who had not participated in sports since their
sophomore year in high school, but did exercise more than five hours a
week were included in this study. This may play a crucial role in the lack
of significance between male athletes and nonathletes regarding perceived
and ideal body image as a larger representation of true nonathletes, may
have provided a true representation of the population that was intended
to study. Literature suggests that a muscular male body among college males
is desirable (Tucker, 1982), and consequently, males engage in exercise
to obtain that desirable build. Therefore, although the nonathletes had
never participated in a sport, or had not participated in sports since
their sophomore year in high school, the majority exercised. Getting a
population of true nonathletes is vital to a study such as this. Future
research with access to a larger population consisting of athletes as well
as true nonathletes may provide stronger relationships.
In addition, the Thirteen
Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale is based on the average heights and
weights from 1987. A scale based on more recent averages would be especially
important to a study such as this one that used basketball players. At
the present time, basketball players obviously are much taller than 69.1
inches for males and 63.7 inches for females. In addition, neither scale
utilized in this study focused on height as an issue. The effect height
has on body image should be examined in a future study as little research
has investigated this relationship.
The Thirteen Figure Contour
Drawing Rating Scale, which requires self-report data instead of measurement,
was used in this study to measure satisfaction or dissatisfaction between
athletes and nonathletes perceived and ideal bodies. Research has shown
that women tend to see themselves as overweight even if they are not (Cash
et al., 1986). Past research suggests that women are more likely than men
to describe themselves as overweight, worry about being or becoming fat,
and express greater concern with dieting and body weight (Drewnowski, Riskey
& Desor, 1982). Such research suggests that males are more satisfied
with their bodies than their females, as was found in the present study.
Introducing a test that measures an individualís actual weight and height,
in addition to their own perceived and ideal images, may provide a conception
of the individualís actual body type that can be compared with his/her
perceived and ideal body images to assess true satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
The figural drawings represent
only contours of the human form and have no facial characteristics or other
characteristics representative of any specific ethnic group. In addition,
any detailed depiction of clothing, hair, facial features or muscular definition
was deliberately avoided in the development of the scale. It has been suggested
that such details may distract the subject from concentrating exclusively
on the size of the figures (Gardner et al., 1999). However, the inability
to control for how weight is differentially distributed among body regions
is a limiting feature of using figural drawings (Gardner et al., 1999).
The distribution of weight gain over body regions differs significantly
between individuals and between ethnic groups. The somatotype the figures
are based on is not representative of all adults, but rather represents
the prototypical white adult of average height and weight (Gardner et al.,
The Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating Scale
is a Likert-type rating scale requiring subjects to select their responses
from a limited number of choices available (Gardner et al., 1998). However,
scale coarseness is not as problematic in this scale as it is present in
others because the difference between drawings is a mere 5% (Gardner et
al., 1998). Therefore, the scale used in this study is highly reliable
The presence of a female experimenter
during the testing process also may have been a critical factor for individuals
when answering questions. Each individual was assured that all answers
were confidential; however, because the tests where administered individually,
some participants may have felt pressured to answer specific questions
in a particular way. For example, when nonathletes were questioned regarding
how much they exercise a week, they may have felt some cognitive dissonance
when they tried to determine an answer. Individuals may have exaggerated
the amount of time they spent exercising, possibly leading to a false consensus
effect, the tendency to believe that our own traits, actions, and choices
are more common than they really are. (Franzoi, 2000). Therefore, an individual
completing the demographic information may have overestimated how much
they exercise in order to relieve feelings of dissonance. In addition,
the false consensus effect may have influenced answers on the BES. As the
participant answered the questions regarding their own body parts or function,
they may have answered more positively thinking that their own traits are
as common to others. In addition, as participants completed the BES, they
were forced to become self-aware of their bodies and body parts in ways
they may have never thought about before. This may also have introduced
feelings of dissonance within the participant, causing him/her to try to
conform to subjective norms. In addition, the good participant effect may
have influenced participantsí responses as they became aware of demand
characteristics, and consequently their behavior was to conform to those
It is possible that the effect that gender had may
have overshadowed the possible effect of being an athlete/nonathlete on
body image. Therefore, future research conducting separate studies for
each gender on the variable of athlete and nonathlete, using the same tools
as this study, may produce significant results. It would be interesting
to investigate whether the athlete/nonathlete variable would show effect
if the gender factor was not there to overshadow any effects.
In addition to separate
studies for each gender, future research might use a reasons for exercise
as a measurement in addition to the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Rating
Scale and the BES to assess individualís reasons for exercising. Although
good diet and exercise leads to an improvement in cardiovascular health,
evidence shows that, particularly in females, exercise is used for weight
control and enhanced physical attractiveness rather than for its assumed
health benefits (Garner et al., 1984). Including a test questioning the
actual reasons an individual exercises or participates in a sport may offer
support to the notion that athletes are more satisfied with their bodies
because they are participating in activities that allow them to become
more content with their bodies. This reasons for exercise questionnaire
could be in addition to a true population of nonathletes.
As previously discussed, the nonathletes in this
study did not accurately portray the true sample intended to study, therefore,
future research using a true nonathlete and athlete population would investigate
this issue more concisely.
In addition, background
information regarding the participants, specifically regarding any eating
disorders, any possible drug use, any excessive exercise patterns, and
other history of each participant may help the scientific community better
understand this important issue.
The information gained through
the present study is applicable to all individuals, but more specifically
to athletes, coaches, trainers and parents of athletes. Although athletes
did score significantly higher on the Physical Condition Subscale than
nonathletes ? indicating that athletes have more positive feelings about
their physical conditions, perhaps as a result of the physical demands
placed on athletes ? virtually all those surveyed wanted to change their
bodies in one way or another: women wanted to be more thin, while men sought
to be larger. This information is important in predicting future behavior
of both male and female athletes and nonathletes. Understanding how individuals
perceive their bodies, and also knowing how they wished they looked, may
allow society to prevent eating disorders and steroid use. Using the findings
of this study to identify individuals at risk for unhealthy behaviors,
and then properly educating athletes, nonathletes, teachers, nurses, doctors,
coaches, trainers, and parents would be useful in the prevention of unhealthy
behaviors. Also, it is important for our society to teach individuals to
accept themselves as they are. The pressures individuals will encounter
as they watch television, attend school, participate (or not) in athletics
to look a certain way can be counterbalanced through proper education.
In addition, literature suggests
that the larger, more muscular male is viewed by others as possessing more
favorable skills and personality traits, and he also tends to be more athletically
capable and physically skilled than the less mesomorphic individuals (Berscheid
& Walster, 1972). Consequently, the males possessing or perceived as
possessing such qualities would be the recipients of more positive feedback,
externally and internally, and would be more inclined to feel better about
themselves than less muscular or less mesomorphic individual (Tucker, 1982).
For females, the literature suggests that there is a desire for small hips
and thighs, but an increased interest in broader shoulders and more muscular
arms (Lenart et al., 1995). Success, happiness, self-determination, satisfaction,
beauty and sexual appeal are all linked to this physique (Bordo, 1993).
The increased desire for the idealized body leads to the conclusion that
much of the way women view themselves is set largely by the sociocultural
norms of society (Lenart et al., 1995).
Although the results of this study do not show significance
on the variable of athlete/nonathlete, the means were moving in the predicted
direction. For example, it is possible that many of the female athletes
participate in sports only as a means to a body that more closely fits
the perceived societal idea. However, on the other end of the spectrum,
there also are athletes who look to diet supplements to help them increase
their body build as a way to reach their perceived ideal body image. With
names like Mega Mass, Super Juice and Carbo Surge, the advertisements for
these products aim to appeal especially to athletes (Beltz & Doering,
1993). While many athletes have turned away from anabolic steroids and
toward nutritional supplements in the hope of gaining a competitive edge
without threatening their health (Beltz & Doering, 1993), the desire
to be bigger still is present.
These messages and pressures
regarding body image that athletes and nonathletes receive on a daily basis
helps us understand the extremes an individual will go to achieve the ideal
body image. Research suggests that given a disparity between perceived
body image and ideal body image, dissatisfaction with oneís physical appearance
may lead to lower self-esteem, higher social anxiety and intense self-consciousness
(Cash, 1994). Diverse sociocultural pressures, including advertising and
mass media, may promote an increasing thin ideal of the female body and
contribute to the misperception of body weight. The perception of the self
as overweight, regardless of actual weight, and desire for further thinness
have been considered risk factors for eating disorders among women (Drewnowski
& Yee, 1987). The results of the current study show a significant difference
between genders, suggesting that females are not as satisfied with their
bodies as males. This is consistent with the research that suggests that
college women have special pressures to look good physically (McCauley,
Mintz & Glenn, 1988). The BES scores in this study may reflect the
difficulty individuals have when comparing themselves to an unrealistically
high standard. Given the pervasiveness of the ideal female form as presented
in the media, women in this study may be unrealistically assessing body
image against such standards.
In general, athletes may
be more likely to feel good about themselves and score higher on body image
scales. Perhaps their body image is more closely tied to their athletic
accomplishments than to physical attributes (Huddy et al., 1993). Even
though a significant effect was not found for the variable of athlete/nonathlete,
the means were moving in the predicted direction. This indicates that all
individuals in our society are very aware of what is conceptualized as
being beautiful or handsome, as well as that when that idealized body is
unobtainable individuals' feelings about themselves and their bodies are
Unfortunately, a less than ideal body image may initiate unhealthy behaviors
within both athletes and nonathletes. The recognition of body image satisfaction
and dissatisfaction are the first steps in the prevention of unhealthy
Demographic Information Collected for Athletes.
Year of Graduation:
Demographic Information Collected for Nonathletes
How much do you exercise a week:
<30 minutes 30 minutes-1 hour 1-2 hours 2-5 hours
5-10 hours 10+ hours
Year of Graduation:
A Sample of Items from the Body Esteem Scale (Franzoi
& Shields, 1984)
Body Scent Chin
Figure of Physique
Waist Chest or Breast
Figures used in the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing Scale
Please see hard copy in the psychology department
Hi. My name is Alyson. This study is looking at body image.
All I am asking you to do is to choose your perceived and ideal body image
from a selection of silhouettes, and then answer a questionnaire regarding
your feelings towards your body parts and functions.
Could you please read and sign this informed consent
form? If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you have the option of aborting
the study. Do you have any questions regarding the study so far?
Could you please answer the top three questions on the
top of the sheet I gave you. Ok, now I am going to hand you thirteen index
cards, each having a silhouette figure on it. I'm asking you to flip through
the cards and write down the number of the figure that you think looks
most like you on the line next to 'perceived body image' on the questionnaire.
Each silhouette has a number in the corner, and the number has no relationship
to the figure, it is only used for my purposes.
Great, now I am going to give you a different set of
index cards. This time, I am going to ask you to write down the number
of the figure that you wished you looked like next to 'ideal body image'
on the questionnaire. Again, the number in the corner is for my purposes
only, and does not have a relationship with the figure.
Now, all I am asking you to do is to answer the survey
on the other side of the paper. This is the Body Esteem Scale, and I'm
asking you to rank on a scale from 1 to 5 how you feel about each body
part of function of your own body.
Thank you very much for participating in this study.
Here is a debriefing form, which includes my hypothesis, for you to look
over. It is important to remember, we all view our bodies differently,
and how you answered any of these questions does not reflect on you as
an individual. There are not any right or wrong answers.
If you have any question or concerns, you may ask them
now, or contact me at my box at a later point.
Thank you again for your help.
Debriefing Form Given to Participants Upon Completion
BODY IMAGE SATISFACTION BETWEEN ATHLETES AND NONATHLTES
Research suggests the degree to which people are satisfied
with their bodies may have profound implications for their self-perceptions
and behaviors. The factors that influence body image satisfaction may differ
for men and women, as well as athletes and nonathletes. The purpose of
this research is to see whether or not athletes and nonathletes differ
in their body image satisfaction.
The athletes and the nonathletes in this study completed
the Body Esteem Scale (BES), in addition to the Thirteen Figure Contour
Drawing Rating Scale. The BES will measure your score on three different
dimensions of body image. Your answers on the Thirteen Figure Contour Drawing
Rating Scale will help me determine your perceived and your ideal body
image, and the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction between the two.
It is important to remember that we all view ourselves
and our bodies differently. How you answered any items of this survey does
not reflect on you as an individual. There are not any right or wrong answers.
I am asking for you assistance in accurately completing
this research by not discussing any part of this study, or what we did
today with your peers. If you have any questions, please ask me now, or
you may contact me, Alyson Hamilton, after December 1, 2000, at Box 0802.
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