Relationship between exercise motivations, self-esteem, eating attitudes and body image satisfaction among undergraduate students
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BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The present study aimed to investigate the associations between motivations for exercise, gender, self-esteem, body satisfaction and eating attitudes. Participants consisted of 100 Dublin Business School undergraduates (45 male, 55 female) ranging in age from 18 – 28 (M=21.39; SD=2.069). Data consisted of participants scores for The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) (Garner et al., 1982),The Figure Rating Scale (FRS) (Stunkard et al., 1983), The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) (Rosenberg, 1965) and The Exercise Motivations Inventory – 2 (EMI-2) (Markland & Ingledew, 1997). Females were found to have a higher sense of self-esteem than their male counterparts in this sample. A significant gender effect was observed regarding body satisfaction as males were found to be content with their body image while females were found to want to be thinner. Females were found to be motivated to exercise significantly more than males for appearance related reasons which was negatively correlated with body image satisfaction. Disordered eating attitudes were significantly positively correlated for being motivated to exercise for appearance related reasons. Body image satisfaction was significantly positively correlated with self-esteem. Results were discussed in relation to methodological weaknesses e.g., self-report measures, strengths, e.g., use of visual stimuli to report body image, and practical implications, e.g., raising awareness of healthy attitudes towards food and exercise behaviours in a university sample. Author keywords: Exercise motivations, self-esteem, eating disorders, college sample