The soulless cycle: Social physique anxiety as a mediator of the relation between body mass index and exercise frequency.

Lisa A Auster-Gussman, James Crim, Traci L. Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although the past research has indicated a relation between weight stigma experiences and decreased exercise, researchers have not identified the distinct psychological processes that explain the nature of this connection. The current studies examine the role of social physique anxiety (SPA) as a mechanism that explains the relation between higher body weight and decreased exercise (Study 1 and 2) and qualitatively examine the mechanisms by which SPA may lead individuals to avoid exercise (Study 2). Study 1 (N = 97) and Study 2 (N = 292) were online surveys in which SPA was tested as a mediator of the relation between body mass index (BMI) and exercise frequency. In Study 2, we also examined exercise-related contextual variables as moderators of the relation between SPA and exercise. The results from both studies indicate that SPA mediates the relation between BMI and weekly exercise such that increased BMI is related to increased SPA (Study 1: b = .48, p < .001; Study 2: b = .34, p < .001), which is in turn related to decreased weekly exercise (Study 1: b = −.33, p < .01; Study 2: b = −0.17, p < .01). Results from Study 2 further suggest that the perceptions of gym-goers’ judgments, gym environments, and body concern each play a role in the relation between SPA and weekly exercise. Results from these studies provide evidence for the potential mediating role of SPA in the relation between BMI and exercise behavior. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-199
Number of pages8
JournalStigma and Health
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 8 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • BMI
  • body-specific anxiety
  • exercise
  • social physique anxiety
  • weight stigma

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