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EFFECTS OF ACUTE AEROBIC EXERCISE FOR THE NEGATIVE MOOD STATES
ELICITED BY THE MEDIA'S PORTRAYAL OF THE "IDEAL" FEMALE BODY
ELIZABETH A. FALLON
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Elizabeth A. Fallon
To my father, who lovingly instilled in me everything I needed to be triumphant: an
inquisitive and logical mind, and tenacious perseverance.
First, I thank my committee chair, Dr. Heather Hausenblas, and committee
members Dr. Chris Janelle, Dr. Peter Giacobbi, and Dr. Micheal Perri, who have been
wonderful role models for me throughout my graduate experience. Specifically, Dr.
Hausenblas was crucial in regard to her knowledge and direction. Drs. Janelle and
Giacobbi added to the content and theoretical significance of this dissertation. Finally I
thank Dr. Perri, who offered me the valuable opportunity to broaden my knowledge and
experiences beyond this project. Each of them has positively impacted my current and
Second, I thank my friends and family for their support during this long and
sometimes convoluted process. Specifically, I thank my brother, who was always
prepared to argue life's injustices on my behalf. Additionally, I thank my friends, Nini
DeBraganza, Sarah Reed, and Timothy Ward who were always there to listen, reframe,
encourage, and guide.
Finally, I acknowledge my undergraduate assistants and my colleagues and co-
workers for their willingness to help me with my daily teaching, research, and technical
difficulties: Ryan Caserta, Amy Hagan, Jesse Germain, Gretchen Ames, Lesley Fox,
Aaron Duley, Steve Coombes, Christine Minnix, Tina Patel, Tiffany Smith, Ben Fedeles,
Alexis Quinoy, Gary Nave, Lori Gibbs, Monica Villardefrancos, Susie Weldon, Curtis
Weldon, Diane Williams, Judy Hopper, and the past and present members of the motor
behavior and exercise psychology laboratories.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
LIST OF TABLES ......... ... ............. .. ...... ... .............. ............ .. vii
LIST OF FIGURES ..................... .......... .................................. viii
ABSTRACT .............. ......................................... ix
1 IN TRODU CTION ................................................. ...... .................
2 LITER A TU R E REV IEW ............................................................. ....................... 4
B ody-im age T heories........... ...... ........................................................ .......... .... .5
Self-presentation T heory ............................................... ............................ 5
Sociocultural Theory ................................ ................ ......... .. .......... .. ..
Methodological Considerations in Body-image Research ......................................14
The Exercise-Body Image Relationship ......................................... .............17
Chronic effects of exercise for body image ............. ........................................ 18
Acute effects of exercise for body image............. .............................................19
Acute Effects of Exercise for M ood ............................................. ...............20
Moderator Variables of the Exercise-Body Image Relationship.............................25
A g e ..............................................................................2 5
S e x ..............................................................................2 6
E ethnicity ..........................................27
Exercise program characteristics..........................................................28
3 M E T H O D .............................................................................3 0
P a rtic ip a n ts ........................................................................................................... 3 0
M measures ............. .............................................. ..... ...... ......... 30
P ro c ed u re ................................................................ 3 4
Statistical Analyses ................. ............. .........39
4 R E S U L T S .............................................................................4 0
Internal consistency ..............................................................40
Sam ple characteristics ............................................................40
Prescreened Sample............... .... .. ..................... .. ......40
N onparticipants........ ............................ ......... ... .................. 42
P articip an ts ................................................................4 2
Prelim inary analyses ................ ........ ..... ....................... .. ................42
Prim ary analyses ................ ........ ..... ............................. ............ .. 43
5 DISCUSSION ............................ .....................................49
A LEISURE-TIME EXERCISE QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................55
B DRIVE FOR THINNESS SUBSCALE EDI-2....................................56
C SOCIOCULTURAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS APPEARANCE
QUESTIONNAIRE REVISED FEMALE VERSION................ .............. ....57
D PRE-PARTICIPATION QUESTIONNAIRE ...................................................59
E MOOD VISUAL ANALOGUE SCALES ...................................... ............... 61
F RATING OF PERCEIVED EXERTION ................ ...........................................62
G ENJOYABILITY OF EXERCISE QUESTIONNAIRE ...........................................63
H UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD..................... 64
I IN F O R M E D C O N SE N T ................................................................. .....................68
J DEBRIEFING SIGNATURE FORM.................................... ......................... 70
LIST OF REFEREN CES ............................................................................. 71
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ..................................................................... ..................82
LIST OF TABLES
4-1. Interpretations of Internal Consistency Scores............... ................. ............... 40
4 -2 D escriptiv e Statistics ......................................................................... ................... 4 1
4-3. Descriptive Statistics for the Four Experimental Groups.........................................45
4-4. Means and Standard Deviations for the Exercise Condition ....................................48
4-5. Means and Standard Deviations for the Quiet Rest Condition ..................................48
LIST OF FIGURES
3-1. D issertation Procedure............................................. .................. ............... 35
4-1. Picture Type by Time Interaction For Depression. .................................................47
4-2. Picture Type by Time Interaction For Body Dissatisfaction ....................................47
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
EFFECTS OF ACUTE AEROBIC EXERCISE FOR THE NEGATIVE MOOD STATES
ELICITED BY THE MEDIA'S PORTRAYAL OF THE "IDEAL" FEMALE BODY
Elizabeth A. Fallon
Chair: Heather A. Hausenblas
Major Department: Exercise and Sport Sciences
Women's body-image disturbance has increased threefold over the past three
decades. Because body-image disturbance is the primary symptom of eating disorders,
and eating disorders are chronic conditions that result in one of the highest mortality and
morbidity rates of all mental disorders, there is need for cost effective prevention and
treatment strategies such as exercise for body-image disturbance. Recently, exercise has
been proposed as a treatment for body-image disturbance Therefore, the purpose of this
dissertation was to examine the effects of an acute bout of exercise on the negative mood
states elicited by the media's portrayal of the "ideal" female body. Caucasian
undergraduates reporting high levels of drive for thinness and internalization of the media
ideal were randomly assigned to watch a picture show containing either neutral pictures
or "ideal" female body pictures after engaging in 30 minutes of moderate intensity acute
aerobic exercise or 30 minutes of quiet rest. Results showed that compared to neutral
pictures, the media pictures significantly increased depression (p = .001) and body
dissatisfaction (p < .001). Acute aerobic exercise, however, was not effective in
preventing or treating the negative mood states elicited by these media images (p = .68).
Future research should continue to investigate the role of exercise in the treatment and
prevention of body-image disturbances by using theoretically driven cognitive behavioral
treatments containing chronic exercise programs.
Many social benefits are afforded to physically attractive people. More specifically,
attractive people are perceived as more popular, outgoing (Langlios et al., 2000; Martin,
Sinden, & Fleming, 2000), and successful (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991;
Hatfield & Sprecher, 1986). They also receive higher academic grades (Felson, 1980), are
given greater employment opportunities (Cash, Gillen, & Burns, 1977), and earn higher
starting salaries than less attractive people (Jackson, 1983). With regard to romantic life,
overweight men and women are about 15% less likely to marry, compared to their
nonoverweight counterparts (Gortmaker, Must, Perrin, Sobol, & Dietz, 1993). It is
plausible that the many social benefits associated with physical attractiveness combined
with the difficulty of altering one's physique have led to significant increases in body-
image disturbance over the past three decades (Berschied, Walster, & Bohmstedt, 1973;
Cash, Winstead, & Janda, 1986; Garner, 1997).
While it is generally understood that a lean physique is desirable for both men and
women (Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-
Dunn, 1999), this "ideal" body is becoming exceedingly thin for women (Silverstein,
Perdue, Peterson, Vogel, & Fantini, 1986; Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens, 1992)
and exceedingly muscular for men (Leit, Pope, & Gray, 2001; Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, &
Borowiecki, 1999). This has been evidenced by changes in the body shape and structure
of men and women shown in the mass media. Specifically, Wiseman et al. showed that
60% of Miss America Pageant contestants and 69% of Playboy centerfolds from
1979 to 1988 were 15% below their expected weights based on their heights. Similarly,
for men, an investigation of Playgirl centerfolds from 1973 to 1997 indicated that the
ideal male body has become increasingly lean and muscular (Leit et al.). Specifically,
over the last 25 years, the average male centerfold has lost 12 pounds of fat and gained 27
pounds of muscle (Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia).
As the discrepancy between the sizes and proportions of the ideal body and the
average body increases (USDHHS, 2000), people are spending extreme amounts of
money to alter their appearance. For example, annual estimates show that Americans
spend about $21.5 billion on gym memberships and exercise equipment (Canadian
Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, 1996), $16.8 billion on dietary supplements (i.e.,
weight-loss aids, fat burners; National Nutritional Foods Association, 2002), $2 billion on
commercial weight-loss programs (i.e., Weight Watchers; Farzan, 1997), and $6.9 billion
on cosmetic surgery (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2002). More vital is the cost
associated with counseling and psychiatric treatment of psychological illnesses that result
from body-image disturbance such as eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder.
While no prevalence and mortality statistics are available for body dysmorphic disorder,
about 3.5 4.0% of the population suffers from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Furthermore, eating disorders are chronic conditions that result in one of the highest
mortality and morbidity rates of all mental disorders (American Psychological
Association [APA], 1994).
Because of the large increase and the high costs associated with the treatment of
body-image disturbance, there is need for practical cost efficient prevention and treatment
strategies for body-image disturbance. Recently, exercise has been proposed as a
practical treatment for body-image disturbance (Fisher & Thompson, 1994; Koff &
Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to examine the effects of an acute bout
of aerobic exercise on the negative mood states (i.e., anxiety, anger, depression, body
dissatisfaction) elicited by pictures of the "ideal" female body. Specifically, I
hypothesized that (a) women viewing media images of the ideal body would report more
anxiety, anger, depression, and body dissatisfaction compared to those viewing neutral
pictures (Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Hagan, 2003;
Pinhas, Toner, Ali, Garfinkel, & Stuckless, 1999); and (b) after viewing media images of
the ideal female body, participants in the exercise condition would report less anxiety,
anger, depression, and body-image dissatisfaction compared to participants in the quiet
rest condition (Arent, Landers, & Etnier, 2000; Focht & Koltyn, 1999; Petruzzello,
Landers, Hatfield, Kubitz, & Salazar, 1991).
Contemporary society exerts pressure on individuals to achieve the aesthetic
standard of a lean and fit body for women and a lean and muscular body for men (Leit,
Pope, & Gray, 2001; Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, &
Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). The pressure to attain this ideal body, the rewards for appearing
attractive, and the health benefits of a normal weight have resulted in people's attempts to
alter their body size and shape (Bane & McAuley, 1998; Garner, 1997). Changing one's
physique, however, is difficult and people's efforts are often unsuccessful (Brownell,
1991). The inability to obtain the "perfect body" has led to an increased prevalence of
body-image disturbance for men and women over the last three decades (Berscheid,
Walster, & Bohrnstedt, 1973; Cash, Winstead, & Janda, 1986; Garner).
Because of the large increase in body-image disturbance over the past three
decades, there is need for practical cost-efficient prevention and treatment strategies.
Exercise has been proposed as a practical cost-effective treatment for body-image
disturbance (Fisher & Thompson, 1994; Koff & Bauman, 1997). While a recent meta-
analysis confirms that exercise has a positive effect on body image (Hausenblas & Fallon,
2001), the effect is small, and there are several limitations in this area of research that
must be addressed.
The purposes of this literature review are to present the prominent body image
theories and methodological limitations within the literature. Research examining the role
of media in body-image disturbance will also be reviewed. Finally, the effects of
acute and chronic exercise on body image will be discussed, with specific consideration
for moderator variables such as age, sex, ethnicity, and exercise program characteristics.
Several theories have been proposed to explain body-image disturbance such as the
Social Comparison Theory, Self-ideal Discrepancy Theory, Self-schema Theory, Self-
presentation Theory, and the Sociocultural Theory (Heinberg, 1996). Most research,
however, fails to study body image within a theoretical framework. Furthermore, no
theory proposes to explain all of the causes of body-image disturbance (Heinberg;
Thompson et al., 1999). Thus I will review the following two body-image theories with
the most empirical support: the Self-presentation Theory and the Sociocultural Theory
(Thompson et al., 1999).
Self-presentation theory proposes that individuals selectively present or omit
aspects of themselves to generate a desirable social impression and avoid an undesirable
impression (Leary, 1992a, 1992b, Leary & Kowalski, 1990). Social anxiety results when
a person is unable to generate a desirable impression (Leary, 1992b). Because physical
appearance is an important component of physical self-esteem (Cash, 1990) and global
self-esteem (Fox & Corbin, 1989), social physique anxiety may result in environments
where evaluation of one's physique is salient (i.e., gym, beach, pool). Thus, social
physique anxiety is defined as the anxiety experienced by individuals who perceive that
their physique will be negatively evaluated by others (Hart, Leary, & Rejeski, 1989).
The primary advantage of the self-presentation theory is that, unlike other theories,
it uses a theoretically derived measure of body-image disturbance. Specifically, the
Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS; Hart, Leary, & Rejeski; Martin, Rejeski, Leary,
McAuley, & Bane, 1997) has excellent psychometric properties (Martin et al.), and has
been used successfully in examining body-image disturbance within various contexts
(Bane & McAuley, 1998; Focht & Hausenblas, 2003; McAuley, Marquez, & Jerome, 2002).
Furthermore, researchers using the SPAS have shown that engaging in chronic exercise
lowers social physique anxiety (Bane & McAuley, 1998; McAuley, Bane, & Mihalko,
1995; McAuley, Bane, Rudolph, & Lox, 1995). It is important to note, however, that
decreases in social physique anxiety associated with chronic exercise may be mediated by
the simultaneous changes in weight and body fat composition. More specifically, because
the populations used in these studies were sedentary and significantly overweight (i.e.,
body fat of 29.37% and 35.97% for men and women, respectively; McAuley, Bane, &
Mihalko) prior to the intervention, the exercise led to physical changes (i.e., body fat of
27.13% and 34.54% for men and women, respectively) that more closely resembled the
ideal body. This suggests that social physique anxiety is not a stable trait, and it may
decrease as people's body shape approaches that of the ideal male or female physique.
Although social physique anxiety is associated with increases in exercise behavior,
there is also evidence that it is associated with decreases in exercise behavior.
Specifically, if a person experiences high social physique anxiety in an exercise
environment (i.e., gym, pool, or track), their motivation to exercise may be overwhelmed
by their social physique anxiety, resulting in a low active or sedentary lifestyle (Lantz,
Hardy, & Ainsworth, 1997; Randsell, Wells, Manore, Swan, & Corbin, 1998).
Research indicates that the relationship between exercise and social physique
anxiety has moderating variables such as age and sex, such that young women are more
likely to experience social physique anxiety compared to men and older women. In a
more recent study, Hausenblas and Martin (1999) showed that experienced aerobic
exercise leaders experienced social physique anxiety regardless of body fat composition
or weight. Furthermore, their results indicate that a person's motives for exercise are
mediated by social physique anxiety, such that those who exercised for appearance-
oriented reasons had higher social physique anxiety compared to those who reported
either affective or leadership motives for instructing.
In conclusion, although the social physique anxiety construct is beneficial to the
body-image literature because it is theoretically driven, there are several factors that may
moderate (i.e., sex and age) or mediate (i.e., body composition, weight, motivations to
exercise) social physique anxiety. Therefore, past research must be interpreted with
caution, and future research should continue to investigate the role of mediators of social
physique anxiety and the degree to which these mediators affect social physique anxiety.
Researchers agree that the strongest influences on the development of body-image
disturbance in Western societies are sociocultural factors (Fallon, 1990; Heinberg,
Thompson, & Stormer, 1995). These factors are the result of an interaction of social
structure and culture. Specifically, social structure is defined as "a persisting and
bounded pattern of social relationships among the units in a social system" (House, 1981,
p. 542), and culture is defined as "a set of cognitive and evaluative beliefs beliefs about
what is or what ought to be that are shared by the members of a social system and
transmitted to new members" (House, p. 542). Because various cognitive and behavioral
patterns are encompassed by these definitions, the sociocultural theory uses several
perspectives (i.e., feminist perspective, gender-role orientation, and the influence of mass
media) to examine the influence of common social ideals, expectations, and experiences
on the etiology and maintenance of body-image disturbance (Heinberg, 1996). Generally,
the sociocultural theory suggests that society overemphasizes the importance of thinness;
and because many people find this a difficult standard of beauty to achieve, body-image
disturbance may develop (Tiggeman & Pickering, 1996).
Feminist perspective. According to the feminist perspective, the etiology and
maintenance of body-image disturbance is the result of women's tendency to equate
physical attractiveness with self-esteem (Franks, 1986; Nagel & Jones, 1992). More
specifically, society teaches women that physical attractiveness is a priority equal to or
higher than education, spirituality, or personal independence. Thus, women who find it
difficult to conform to the prevailing norms for thinness and attractiveness are at greater
risk for developing low self-esteem and body-image disturbances (Bergner, Remer, &
Whetsell, 1985; Striegel-Moore & Marcus, 1995).
Gender-role orientation. Similar to the feminist perspective, gender-role
orientation assumes that society is the driving force behind the development of cognitive
and behavioral patterns. Unlike the feminist perspective, the gender-role orientation
proposes that men and women are susceptible to socialization, thus forming rigid gender-
roles for each of the sexes. Specifically for women, femininity and physical beauty are of
high importance (Spence & Helmreich, 1978; Timko, Striegel-Moore, Silberstein, &
Rodin; 1987). Therefore, women holding traditional gender-role beliefs place higher
importance on appearance and experience greater levels of body-image dissatisfaction
compared to their more masculine or androgynous peers (Jackson, Sullivan, & Rostker,
1988; van Strien, 1989).
Influence of mass media. Most relevant to this dissertation is a perspective that
focuses on the influence of mass media on women's body-image dissatisfaction. In the
following pages, I will provide evidence of a socially endorsed thin ideal, followed by a
review of the correlational and experimental research examining the influence of the
mass media on body-image disturbance.
Research has shown that 60% of Miss America Pageant contestants and 69% of
Playboy centerfolds from 1979 to 1988 were 15% below their expected weights based on
their heights (Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens, 1992). This trend has also been
documented in fashion magazines (i.e., Vogue, Cosmopolitan) predominantly read by
women, such that the ideal female body portrayed in the magazines is becoming
progressively thinner over time (Anderson & DiDomenico, 1992; Leit, Pope, & Gray,
2001; Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000; Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens, 1992).
Furthermore, the articles accompanying these thin images are oriented towards dieting,
exercise, and plastic surgery (Malkin, Womian, & Chrisler, 1999; Silverstein, Perdue,
Peterson, & Vogel, 1986; Nemeroff, Stein, Diehl, & Smilack, 1994).
While the data reported in these descriptive studies indicate the presence of a
socially endorsed thin ideal, it is not sufficient support for the influence of mass media on
body-image disturbance. More notably, researchers rely on the correlational and
experimental data showing that exposure to the mass media's portrayal of the thin ideal
results in decreased mood (Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Hagan, 2003), affect
(Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Focht, in press; Kalodner, 1997), self-esteem
(Cusumano & Thompson, 1997), body satisfaction (Cusumano & Thompson), and an
increase of eating disorder symptoms (Harrison & Cantor, 1997; Stice, Schupak-
Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994).
For example, in a correlational design, 238 undergraduate women were asked to
complete self-report measures for media exposure, body dissatisfaction, and eating
disorder symptoms (Stice et al.). Results indicated a positive relationship between media
exposure and eating disorder symptoms. Furthermore, a path analysis indicated that
eating disorder symptoms were mediated by internalizing the ideal-body stereotype and
body dissatisfaction. More specifically, media exposure increased body dissatisfaction
and internalization of the media ideal, and in turn, body dissatisfaction and internalization
increased eating disorder symptoms. A limitation to the study, however, is that the
measures used to assess ideal-body stereotype internalization were not adequately
Therefore, Cusumano and Thompson (1997) improved on the research of Stice and
colleagues (1994) by including the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance
Questionnaire and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Inventory along with the Eating Disorder
Inventory to examine the effects of media exposure, awareness, and internalization of the
media ideal on body-image disturbance. Their results revealed no correlation between
media exposure and body-image disturbance, but found that between 12.8% and 28.7%
of the variance in body-image disturbance and eating disorder symptoms was accounted
for by awareness and internalization of the media ideal. Therefore, media's influence on
body-image disturbance may not be a result of mere exposure to the media, but a result of
the cognitive processes (i.e., awareness and internalization) present while viewing the
media images. The importance of awareness and internalization processes has been
further substantiated by more recent research (Harrison, 1997; Hermes & Keel, 2003;
Sands & Wardle, 2003; Thomsen, Weber, & Brown, 2002).
Because correlational studies have been inconclusive, experimental approaches
have been used to indicate a link between media exposure and body-image disturbance.
For example, Kalodner (1997) asked women to view 12 pictures depicting either the
media's ideal female body, men exercising, or older men, women, and children playing.
Results indicated that the women viewing the media ideal had higher private body
consciousness and higher anxiety compared to women looking at slides of men or people
playing (Kalodner). Furthermore, research has shown that exposure to pictures of fashion
models can increase anger, hostility, and depression compared to viewing control pictures
(Pinhas, Toner, Ali, Garfinkel, & Stuckless, 1999).
The relationship between media exposure and body image has been further
established by research examining the media's effect on populations with eating disorder
symptoms. For example, Waller, Hamilton, and Shaw (1992) compared changes in body-
size estimation between women with diagnosed eating disorders and women with no
history of eating disorders. Results indicated a decrease in body satisfaction for the eating
disordered women viewing slides of fashion models, such that women with eating
disorders significantly overestimated their own body size after viewing fashion models
compared to eating disordered women who viewed control slides, and noneating
disordered women viewing the models or control pictures.
In a more recent study, women scoring high and low for drive for thinness viewed
pictures of a female model, pictures of themselves, and nonphysique control pictures
(Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Focht, 2004). Using the Positive and Negative Affect
Scale, results indicated that women scoring high for drive for thinness had increased
negative affect immediately after viewing slides of themselves. The women continued to
report negative affect one and two hours after viewing the slides. Furthermore, positive
affect was significantly lower 1-hour post-test for women scoring high for drive for
This relationship between media and body image has also been documented in
adolescents (Harrison, 2001). Specifically, 366 adolescents in the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades
were randomly assigned to watch a 15-minute video showing a girl being socially
rewarded for thinness, socially punished for fatness, or a control video showing a girl
camping with her family. Results indicated that the adolescents watching the video
showing a girl being socially punished for fatness reported decreased mood compared to
the other videos, indicating that exposure to a "fat is bad" mentality may be related to
eating disorder symptoms.
The positive relationship between media exposure to an ideal body type and body-
image disturbance is well-established. Until recently, however, researchers have
struggled to identify an underlying mechanism to explain why this relationship exists.
Heinberg and Thompson (1995) were among the first to propose that women internalize
the media images as representative of how their own body should look. More
specifically, correlational and experimental evidence shows that women are not only
aware of the ideal body being presented in mass media, but they believe they are
expected to conform to that ideal (Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Hausenblas, Janelle,
Gardner, & Focht, 2004). It is this internalization of media images that researchers
believe has led to the increase in body-image disturbance over time (Cattarin, Thompson,
Thomas, & Williams, 2000; Heinberg, & Thompson, 1995; Irving & Berel, 2001).
Similar to the research investigating women's internalization of the media ideal,
researchers have recently indicated that men are also internalizing the advertisements
displayed in popular magazines and clothing catalogs (Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, &
Hagan, 2003; Leit, Gray, & Pope, 2002). Specifically, Leit et al. found that after being
exposed to 30 slides showing ideal male physiques, men reported greater discrepancies
between their estimation of their current muscle mass and their ideal muscle mass.
In a similar study, male participants scoring high and low for body-image
disturbance were asked to view nonphysique control slides, and physique slides (i.e.,
pictures of themselves, and pictures of a male model; Hausenblas et al., 2003). All
participants, regardless of level of body-image disturbance, reported increased
depression, anger, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction after viewing slides of themselves.
Additionally, all men reported increased body dissatisfaction after viewing the model
slides. Furthermore, results indicated that body-image disturbance might moderate this
response such that men with greater body-image disturbance reported greater mood
disturbance (i.e., more anger, depression, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction) after viewing
slides of themselves compared to control slides.
Although most research has been conducted with women in early adulthood, it is
important to note that recent investigations of youth have also indicated a positive
relationship between the mass media and body-image disturbance. Specifically, results
show that children begin to internalize the mass media ideal before puberty (Hermes &
Keel, 2003). Furthermore, research has indicated that internalization explains 28% of the
variance of body-image disturbance among 9 to 12-year olds (Sands & Wardle, 2003).
In conclusion, the mass media (i.e., television and magazines) are depicting
increasingly leaner men and women as the societal ideal. Additionally, adults and
adolescents are internalizing these images as representative of how their own bodies
should look. Furthermore, because technology affords greater opportunity for exposure to
this mass media ideal, it is important to continue to explore the relationship between the
media and body image. There are, however, several methodological limitations within the
body-image literature that must be addressed.
Methodological Considerations in Body-image Research
As previously mentioned, a lack of research conducted within a theoretical
framework is a major limitation of the body-image literature. There are also several other
methodological and design limitations in the body-image research that will be discussed.
First, the operational definition and terminology of body image has varied, and it is often
not explicitly explained within individual research studies (Bane & McAuley, 1998).
Body image is an umbrella term for the "internal representations of one's outer
appearance" (Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999), and it consists of
perceptions, cognitions, affect, behaviors, and subjective evaluations. The affective
dimension encompasses distress or anxiety regarding one's appearance. An example of
this dimension is social physique anxiety, which is caused by fear of negative social
evaluation of one's body (Hart et al., 1989). The cognitive component includes how
body-image schema affects the input, storage, and retrieval processing of information.
For example, body-related thoughts may dominate the cognitions of individuals with
body-image disturbance resulting in distorted processing of their physique. The
behavioral aspect encompasses avoidance of situations or environments that evoke body-
image scrutiny (e.g., public beaches and pools), and engaging in behaviors related to
weight change or maintenance (e.g., dieting and exercise). The perceptual component is
the accuracy in estimating the size of body sites or the whole body. A body-site
perceptual task involves a comparison between an estimation of the size of body parts
(i.e., chest, waist, hips, thighs) compared to the actual width of the body parts, such that
larger differences between the actual and perceived measurement indicates greater body-
image disturbance. Finally, subjective evaluation is the most global measure of body
image because it uses a person's subjective evaluation of their physique and is associated
with affective, cognitive, and behavioral features (Thompson et al.). Examples of
subjective evaluation include the degree of dissatisfaction with the size of body parts
(e.g., hips, thighs) or the whole body. Because of the variety of body-image dimensions
available, and their disparate operational definitions, it is important for researchers to
clarify which dimension they are assessing. Additionally, several body-image dimensions
should be used in future studies so researchers are better able to detect body-image
disturbance and gain a more complete understanding of body image within their sample.
Similar to the limitations associated with the numerous operational definitions of
body image, there have been a wide variety of body-image measures used to assess body-
image concerns. These instruments differ in their psychometric properties, feasibility, and
frequency of use (Bane & McAuley, 1998; Thompson et al., 1999); and therefore,
comparing individual studies investigating the exercise-body image relationship is
difficult. According to Thompson (2004), researchers should carefully consider the
population they are examining and include multiple pertinent measures of body image.
Potential body-image measures should be investigated for validity, reliability,
instructional protocol (Thompson, 2004), and scale type (e.g., Likert or visual analogue;
Bartoshuk, 2000a, 2000b; Carpenter, 2000). Researchers should also determine whether a
state or trait measure of body image is most appropriate for their research (Thompson,
2004). Furthermore, if no existing body-image measure is satisfactory for the population
of interest, authors should seek to adapt an existing measure and avoid creating new
measures (Thompson, 2004).
More specifically, several studies located by Hausenblas and Fallon (2001) for the
exercise and body-image meta-analysis used author-developed measures of body image
that were not adequately tested for validity and reliability. Similarly, body-image
measures that have been validated for women (e.g., Eating Disorder Inventory) may not
be appropriate for measuring body-image disturbance for men. Therefore, any results
obtained from studies using such measures should be cautiously evaluated.
Regarding scale type, some researchers have recently suggested that traditional
measures of body image that use Likert scales anchored with adjectives such as "weak,"
"moderate," and "strong" may be flawed because the intensity of those adjectives
depends on the range of their experiences (Bartoshuk, 2000a, 2000b; Carpenter, 2000).
Therefore, visual analogue scales with universally adjective-labeled scales (i.e., no
depression at all to most depression possible) are suggested for use in psychology
(Bartoshuk, 2000a, 2000b; Carpenter, 2000) because individuals have different ranges of
experiences to draw from and visual analogue scales provide a greater range of responses
Finally, although there has been extensive literature investigating the relationship
between media exposure and body satisfaction, and there is an overall effect size of -.30,
indicating that exposure to media ideals results in decreases in body satisfaction (Groesz,
Levine, Murnen, 2002). The direction of the cause-effect relationship, however, is
unclear. More specifically, research has not been able to determine whether media
exposure causes greater body-image disturbance, or if greater body-image disturbance
causes people to seek out information (via the mass media) on how they should appear.
In conclusion, the body-image literature has several limitations that must be
addressed by future research. These limitations include nontheoretically driven studies,
unclear terminology, diverse and somewhat inadequate assessment techniques, and the
inability to establish a clear cause-effect relationship between body-disturbance and
The Exercise-Body Image Relationship
Researchers have also not clearly established the cause-effect relationship between
exercise and body image (Hausenblas & Fallon, 2001). Although many researchers
presume that increased physical activity leads to increased body image, it is possible that
people with better body image are more likely to exercise. Recently, Hausenblas and
Fallon (2001) undertook a meta-analysis of the research investigating the exercise-body
image relationship. Although a meta-analysis is not able to determine the direction of the
exercise-body image relationship, the meta-analysis was able to provide a statistical
review of the research, which indicated a positive relationship between exercise and body
image. The results and future directions provided by this meta-analysis are discussed
Chronic effects of exercise for body image
A total of 111 studies were included in the meta-analysis by Hausenblas and Fallon
(2001) investigating the relationship between chronic physical activity and body image.
Effect sizes (ES) were calculated for correlational, repeated-measures, and experimental
versus control group designs. Sixty-three studies containing 252 effect sizes were
included in the correlational category. Results revealed a significant but small effect size
(ES = .32) indicating that exercisers had a better body image than nonexercisers.
Repeated measures studies compared body image scores of experimental and
nonexercising control groups before and after an exercise intervention. Forty studies with
232 effect sizes were included in this category. Results indicated that exercisers had more
positive body image after the exercise intervention compared to before the intervention.
In comparison, the control group's body image did not change from pre to post
assessment. Additionally, the exercisers had significantly better body image compared to
the controls after the intervention.
Finally, for experimental versus control studies, only studies using randomization
procedures were included in this category. As a result, 33 studies containing 143 effect
sizes were used. A small effect (ES = .27) was found indicating that exercisers had
greater body-image satisfaction after exercise compared to the controls.
In conclusion, the meta-analysis indicated that chronic exercise has a small positive
effect on body image, but there were conflicting results for gender and age. More
specifically, there were greater effects for men compared to women for correlational
studies, but not for the experimental versus control or gains studies. With regard to age,
each of the categories resulted in a different outcome, with correlational studies
indicating greater effects for those over 30, gains indicating greater effects for those
between 20 and 30, and experimental versus control indicating no difference between age
Research investigating the role of chronic exercise participation for clinically
diagnosed eating disorders also indicates that exercise and body-image satisfaction have a
positive relationship. Specifically, in a study examining the effects of an exercise
intervention in the treatment of obese women with binge eating disorder, 77 women were
randomized to either a 6-month treatment program or a delayed treatment control
condition (Levine, Marcus, & Moulton, 1996). At post-treatment, the women in the
treatment group reported significant increases in their weekly exercise frequency
compared to the control group. Furthermore, 81% of those in the treatment group
reported that they were no longer engaging in binge eating episodes.
Similarly, in a study examining the addition of exercise to the typical cognitive
behavioral treatment for binge eating disorder, 84 women were randomly assigned to a
cognitive behavioral treatment, a cognitive behavioral treatment with exercise, or a
cognitive behavioral treatment with exercise and a maintenance program (Pendleton,
Goodrick, Poston, Reeves, & Foreyt, 2002). At the end of 16 months, results indicated
that adding the cognitive behavioral treatment with exercise significantly increased the
rate of abstinence from binge eating compared to the cognitive behavioral treatment
Acute effects of exercise for body image
Although the effects of chronic exercise have been well documented, only one
study (McInnman & Berger, 1993) was located that investigated changes in body image
after an acute bout exercise. McInnman and Berger asked 75 female exercisers to answer
the Self-Description Questionnaire III before and after an acute bout of exercise.
Compared to the control group, who were tested before and after a classroom lecture, the
exercisers reported significant increases on the Physical Ability and Physical Appearance
subscales following exercise (Mclnnman & Berger).
While Mclnnman and Berger (1993) found that an acute bout of exercise has the
potential to increase body-image satisfaction, there are several limitations within their
study that should be addressed by future research. First, only one measure of body image
was used in this study. Future researchers should attain a more complete understanding of
the treatment effects of their experiments by using several measures of body image that
test the cognitive, affective, and perceptual components of body-image. Second, the Self-
Description Questionnaire III is not a state measure of body image; and therefore, the
validity of the measure is questionable when testing the effects of acute exercise on body
image. Third, their sample consisted of experienced aerobics participants (i.e., 50% with
more than one year of aerobic dance experience), and the increases in body image after a
single bout of exercise cannot be extrapolated to inactive populations or populations
unfamiliar with aerobics.
Acute Effects of Exercise for Mood
As stated earlier, the research examining the effects of acute exercise on body
image is scarce (McInnman & Berger, 1993). Therefore, because researchers have
associated negative mood with negative body image (Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, &
Hagan, 2003; Cusumano & Thompson, 1997) and eating disorder symptoms (Carter,
Bulik, Lawson, Sullivan, & Wilson, 1996; Stice & Shaw, 1994), it is beneficial to discuss
the research examining exercise's effect on mood and mood related concepts (i.e., affect
and emotion). Specifically, the similarities and differences between the terms (i.e., mood,
affect, and emotion) are addressed. Subsequently, a summary of the research examining
the effects of an acute bout of exercise on emotion and mood, and the methodological
implications for this dissertation are presented.
Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (APA; 2000)
includes specific definitions for affect and mood, these terms have been used
interchangeably. According to Ekkekakis and Petruzzello (2000), these terms have
important distinctions, and therefore must be differentiated within empirical research.
Specifically, Emotions are elicited by a specific recognized stimulus and are
characterized by strenuous intensity, short duration cognitions (Ekkekakis & Petruzzello,
2000). Affect is defined as "a pattern of observable behaviors that is the expression of a
subjectively experienced feeling state (emotion)" (APA, 2000). Sadness, elation, and
anger are all examples of affect. Moods are defined as "a pervasive and sustained
emotion that colors the perception of the world" (APA, 2000). Examples of mood
include depression, elation, anger, and anxiety. Researchers have elaborated on the
definition of mood stating that moods are the result of cognitions elicited by the
environment, but are typically considered low intensity, and longer in duration compared
to emotions (Smith & Crabbe, 2000). Furthermore, moods are thought to be the result of
prolonged exposure to a stimulus and influence cognitive processes, which in turn, can
further effect mood (Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Hagan, 2003; Kalodner, 1997).
Because past research has used the terms affect, emotion, and mood
interchangeably, it is difficult to determine the effects of acute exercise on mood.
However, a brief discussion of research investigating mood and emotion is necessary to
help formulate appropriate methodology and hypotheses for this dissertation.
Early studies examining acute exercise and emotion focused on aggressiveness and
anger (Cantor, Zillman, & Bryant, 1975;Caprara, Renzi, D'Imperio, Rielli, & Travaglia,
1986; Zillman, & Bryant, 1974). Specifically, they used confederates to provoke
participants in a laboratory setting. For example, in a study investigating aggressiveness,
participants were brought into a waiting room with a confederate who acted obnoxiously
by being noisy and intentionally interrupting conversations. After exposure to the
confederate, participants cycled at strenuous intensity or sat quietly for one minute.
Results indicated that participants in the exercise condition were more aroused (i.e.,
higher heart rate, higher blood pressure; Cantor, Zillman, & Bryant, 1975), and gave
greater intensity shocks to the obnoxious confederate compared to those in the quiet rest
condition (Caprara, Renzi, D'Imperio, Rielli, & Travaglia, 1986; Zillman, & Bryant,
1974). Thus, researchers concluded that the exercise bout increased aggressive behavior.
In a similar study, after exposure to an anger-provoking confederate, participants
cycled at strenuous intensities for 1.5 minutes (Zillman, Johnson, & Day, 1974).
Subsequently, half of the participants were given the opportunity to shock the confederate
immediately after exercise, while the other half of the participants were given an 8-
minute recovery period. Because the participants who were able to give the shock
immediately after exercise gave greater shocks compared to those who had a recovery
period, Zillman and colleagues again concluded that the acute bout of exercise increased
More recently, Ahmend and Mapletoft (1989) compared an exercise condition to a
frustration condition on subsequent aggressive behavior. Their results contradicted
previous research (Ahmend & Mapletoft, 1989; Caprara, Renzi, D'Imperio, Rielli, &
Travaglia, 1986; Zillman, Johnson, & Day, 1974) such that participants in the frustration
condition were more aggressive compared to those in the exercise condition. This result
supports the ideal that exercise does not enhance aggression, but may reduce it.
In their qualitative literature review examining emotion and exercise, Smith and
Crabbe (2000) suggested that these early experiments should be interpreted with caution
because they used behavioral measures of aggression. Because these aggressive
responses are indirect measures of the emotions underlying the behavioral response, more
research is needed.
Research examining the positive effect of exercise on mood, however, has been
supported by research using the State-Trait Anxiety Scale (Petruzzello, Landers, Hatfield,
Zubitz, & Salazar, 1991; Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) and the Profile of
Mood States (POMS; McNair, Lorr, & Droppleman, 1981). With regard to anxiety, a
meta-analysis containing 104 studies (N= 3,048 men and women) indicated that acute
(ES = .23) and chronic (ES = .25) exercise behavior is associated with a reduction in state
anxiety (Petruzzello, Landers, Hatfield, Kubitz, & Salazar, 1991). Specifically for acute
exercise, the greatest effects emerged for exercise lasting between 21 and 30 minutes (ES
= .41). Since this meta-analysis, research has continued to report that exercise reduces
state (Focht & Koltyn, 1999) and trait anxiety (Steptoe, Kearsley, & Walters, 1993).
Similar to the anxiety and exercise research, most studies using the POMS to
investigate changes in mood before and after an acute bout of exercise has also indicated
improved positive (i.e. vigor) and decreased negative (i.e., tension, depression, anger,
fatigue, and confusion) mood states from pre- to post- exercise (Berger & Motl, 2000).
Furthermore, the positive effect of exercise on mood has been enduring across various
exercise modes (i.e., jogging, weight training, taekwondo, and rockclimbing), and
intensities (i.e., mild, moderate, and strenuous; Berger & Motl).
Most important to this study is the recommendations for exercise duration, mode,
and intensity provided by the POMS research. More specifically, some research has
indicated positive mood changes are associated with bouts of exercise as short as 5 to 10
minutes (Thayer, 1987, 1996). Little research, however, has replicated this effect (Berger
& Motl, 2000). At the opposite extreme, exercising for an extended period of time (i.e.,
more than 1 hour) has been associated with no mood changes (Berger, Grove,
Prapavessis, & Butki, 1997; Hooper, Mackinnon, & Hanrahan, 1997) or adverse mood
reactions (O'Connor, Morgan, & Raglin, 1991; Morgan, Costill, Flynn, Raglin, &
O'Connor, 1988). Therefore, a guideline has been proposed for experimentation purposes
of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise (Berger & Motl, 2000).
For mode of exercise, greater mood alterations have been observed when using an
exercise prescription that has: (a) deep and rhythmic breathing, (b) lack of competition,
(c) closed or predictable activities, and (d) repetitive and rhythmical movements (Berger,
1996; Berger & Owen, 1988). Therefore, activities such as walking, jogging, stair
stepping, and cycling are recommended activities for exercise and mood research (Berger
& Motl, 2000).
For exercise intensity, it appears that mild intensity exercise (i.e., walking) is
associated with positive mood states (Thayer, 1987; 1989; 1996), but the research using
mild exercise is limited. Research examining the effect of moderate intensity exercise on
mood is more salient and consistently shows a positive association between moderate
exercise and mood (Motl, Berger, & Wilson, 1996; Steptoe, Kearsley, & Walters, 1993).
Strenuous exercise, however, has been associated with negative changes in mood (Motl,
Berger, & Wilson, 1996; O'Connor, 1997). Therefore, researchers recommend the use of
moderate intensity exercise to study the effects of exercise on mood (Berger & Motl,
Finally, researchers have noted that participants report greater positive mood
changes when they perceive the exercise duration, intensity, and mode as enjoyable
(Berger & Motl, 2000). Therefore, researchers should be cautious when prescribing
specific exercise intensities and modes during experimental research. Specifically, the
population parameters such as age, exercise history, health status, and gender should be
considered prior to exercise prescription.
Moderator Variables of the Exercise-Body Image Relationship
There are several moderator variables that may affect the exercise-body image
relationship. Specifically, the effects of age, sex, ethnicity, and exercise program
characteristics are discussed.
Although research indicates that the mean age of onset for eating disorders is 17
(APA, 2000), research investigating nonpathological populations has been inconclusive
in determining the effects of age for body-image disturbance. Several studies have
indicated that body-image disturbance increases with age (Demarest & Allen, 2000),
while others have reported that age has little effect (Cash & Henry, 1995).
When age was incorporated as a moderator variable in the exercise-body image
meta-analysis by Hausenblas and Fallon (2001), the gains studies indicated that exercise
participation had the largest effect for those between 20 and 30 (ES = .58), followed by
participants less than 20 years (ES = .15), and those older than 30 years (ES = .08).
Therefore, the population at greatest risk for body-image disturbance, and the most likely
to benefit from exercise participation is those in early adulthood (i.e., 18-22 years).
Recent research has indicated that body-image disturbance is increasing among
men and newly recognized body-image disorders, such as Muscle Dysmorphia, are more
likely to occur in men than women (Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, & Phillips, 1997).
Despite the reported increases in male body-image disturbance, however, women
continue to report greater body-image disturbance compared to men (APA, 1994).
Furthermore, women are more likely than men to suffer from eating disorders (i.e.,
anorexia nervosa), which can result in mortality (APA, 2000). Therefore, most research
investigating body image has focused on women.
With regard to the effects of exercise for body image, Hausenblas and Fallon
(2001) meta-analytically investigated the moderating role of sex. While correlational
research indicated a significantly greater relationship for physical activity and positive
body image for men (ES= .59) compared to women (ES = .33), the magnitude of the
effect for physically active men compared to inactive men (ES = .30) was not
significantly different from the magnitude of the effect for physically active women
compared to inactive women (ES= .36). Likewise, the gains studies showed no
difference between the effect sizes for men (ES = .21) compared to women (ES = .27).
Therefore, because women have traditionally reported greater body-image disturbance
compared to men, and because the moderating role of sex in the exercise-body image
relationship is equivocal, this study used a female sample.
Research investigating ethnicity differences and body-image disturbance has been
equivocal. While several studies have revealed no differences for body-image disturbance
among Caucasian, Hispanic, and African-Americans (Schreiber, Robins, Streigel-Moore,
Obarzanek, Morrison, & Wright, 1996; Striegel-Moore, Wilfley, Caldwell, Needham, &
Brownell, 1996), others have indicated that Caucasian females report greater body-image
disturbance than African-American females (Cash & Henry, 1995; Rosen, Srebnik,
Saltzberg, & Wendt, 1991). A recent meta-analysis using 35 studies containing 104 effect
sizes confirmed that Caucasians report more eating disturbance than non-Caucasians
(Wildes & Emery, 2001). The greatest effect sizes were obtained from college samples
on measures of subclinical eating pathology (i.e., dietary restraint, ideal body shape, and
body dissatisfaction). It is important to note, however, that the results obtained by Wildes
and Emory are relevant only for Caucasians and African-Americans. At the time,
research investigating other ethnicities (i.e., Asian and Hispanic) was limited and
therefore they were unable to determine the role of ethnicity for these populations.
With regard to ethnicity's role in the exercise-body image relationship, it has been
reported that more Caucasians engage in physical activity with greater frequency
compared to African-Americans (USDHHS, 2000). How ethnicity moderates the
exercise-body image relationship, however, is unknown because Hausenblas and Fallon
(2001) were not able to calculate an overall effect size for ethnicity due to low numbers
of studies incorporating ethnicity as a factor. Therefore, because Caucasians have
reported more body-image disturbance compared to African-Americans (Wildes &
Emery, 2001), and because the moderating role of race/ethnicity for the exercise-body
image relationship is unknown (Hausenblas & Fallon, 2001), this dissertation used a
Exercise program characteristics
Although extensive research exists investigating the exercise-body image
relationship, little is known regarding the mediating effects of exercise program
characteristics (i.e., mode, intensity, frequency, and duration). With respect to mode of
exercise (i.e., aerobic, anaerobic, both aerobic and anaerobic), the meta-analysis by
Hausenblas and Fallon (2001) indicated no significant differences for mode of exercise
for the experimental versus control group or gains designs. A trend emerged for mode for
the correlational studies such that the effect was larger for people who participated in
both aerobic and anaerobic exercise (ES= .38), followed by anaerobic only (ES= .19)
and aerobic only (ES = .06). Although this effect was noted only for the correlational
studies, it is important for future research to investigate mode as a moderator variable in
the relationship between physical activity and body image. Additionally, due to the
general aspirations of men to be muscular and women to be thin, the interaction between
sex and mode on body disturbance should also be investigated.
The physical activity and body image meta-analysis revealed no effect for intensity,
frequency, or duration of exercise for correlational, experimental versus control, or gains
categories (Hausenblas, & Fallon, 2001). It is important to note, however, that many
studies failed to incorporate validated subjective measures of exercise behavior (i.e.,
Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire) or objective physiological measures of intensity
(i.e., heart rate), frequency and duration (i.e., pedometers, or accelerometers). To
determine the effects of these variables, future researchers must incorporate validated
subjective measures and objective measures of exercise behavior, or control the exercise
characteristics within the experimental intervention.
In conclusion, because of the increasing prevalence of body-image disturbance, and
the substantial costs associated with the treatment of body-image disorders, future
research is needed to investigate exercise as a practical treatment strategy for the
reduction of body-image disturbance. Future research, however, must use validated
subjective and objective measures of exercise behavior and body image. Additionally,
researchers must consider the roles of moderator variables such as sex, ethnicity, age, and
exercise program characteristics.
Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the effects of an acute
bout of exercise for the negative mood states elicited by exposure to media images of the
"ideal" female body for female university students. Specific hypotheses were: (a) women
viewing media images of the ideal body would report more anxiety, anger, depression,
and body dissatisfaction compared to those viewing neutral pictures (Cusumano &
Thompson, 1997; Hausenblas, Janelle, Gardner, & Hagan, 2003; Pinhas, Toner, Ali,
Garfinkel, & Stuckless, 1999), and (b) after viewing media images of the ideal female
body, participants in the exercise condition would report less anxiety, anger, depression,
and body-image dissatisfaction compared to participants in the quiet rest condition
(Arent, Landers, & Etnier, 2000; Focht & Kolytn, 1999; Petruzzello, Landers, Hatfield,
Kubitz, & Salazar, 1991).
Sixty-three Caucasian female undergraduate students recruited from courses in
the College of Health and Human Performance participated in this experiment.
Women were chosen because they report greater body-image disturbance compared
to men (Cash, Winstead, & Janda, 1986; Garner, 1997; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe,
& Tantleff-Dunn, 1999), and because they are more likely to report negative mood
states (Verbrugge, 1985). Fifteen participants in each experimental condition were
needed for adequate statistical power. Sample size was determined using Tran's
(1997) power analysis tables for repeated measures designs. Sample size was
calculated at an alpha level of .05, using an average correlation value between
adjacent repeated measures of .60, and an effect size of .70.
Demographic data. Demographic data including participant age, height,
weight, and ethnicity was collected via a pre-screening questionnaire.
Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (LTEQ). The LTEQ (see Appendix A;
Godin, Jobin, & Bouillon, 1986) is a self-report instrument that assesses the
frequency of mild, moderate, and strenuous exercise done for 20 min or longer during
a typical week. The weekly frequency of mild, moderate, and strenuous exercise are
converted into a measure of energy expenditure called metabolic equivalents (METs)
using the following formula: 3(mild) + 5(moderate) + 9(strenuous). This measure
has adequate validity and test-retest reliability (Jacobs, Ainsworth, Hartman, & Leon,
Drive for Thinness. The Drive for Thinness subscale of the Eating Disorder
Inventory-2 (see Appendix B; Garner, 1991) assesses body-image disturbance. For each
item, individuals respond on a six-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 6 (always),
with a higher score indicating greater drive for thinness. A sample item is "I feel
extremely guilty after overeating". Previous research has supported the validity and
reliability of the Drive for Thinness subscale (Garner).
Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire Revised. The
Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire Revised (see Appendix C;
Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999)
uses two subscales (i.e., Awareness and Internalization) to assess a person's awareness
and internalization of body stereotypes in popular media (i.e., television & magazines).
For each of the 21 items, individuals respond on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1
(completely disagree) to 5 (completely agree). A sample item for the internalization
subscale is "I would like my body to look like the women who appear in TV shows and
movies". A sample item for the awareness subscale is "People find individuals who are in
shape more attractive than individuals who are not in shape". Higher scores indicate
increased awareness and internalization of media awareness. Previous research has
shown this scale to be psychometrically valid and is a significant predictor of body-image
disturbance, eating disturbance, and self-esteem (Cusumano & Thompson).
Pre-Participation Questionnaire (PPQ). The PPQ (see Appendix D) is a self-
report measure used to identify medical concerns that would place a participant at
increased risk for complications during exercise. Significant medical conditions and the
risk factors for heart disease, as determined by the American College of Sports Medicine
(ACSM), are formulated in questions in the PPQ (ACSM, 2000). Participants who
indicated "yes" to any question were asked to elaborate on their condition. If the
condition did not put the individual at risk, the subject was allowed to participate in the
Visual analogue scales. Visual analogue scales (see Appendix E) were used to
assess the eating disorder symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and body
dissatisfaction. The scales use a 10 cm horizontal line with anchors from No Anxiety/
Depression/ Anger/ Body Dissatisfaction to Worst Possible Anxiety/ Depression/ Anger/
Body Dissatisfaction. The participant is asked to place a vertical line at the point that
"best describes how you feel right now." These scales have adequate psychometric
properties, and they have been frequently used in research investigating media effects on
mood and body image (e.g., Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; Lavin & Cash, 2000).
Heart rate. Heart rate was measured using a Polar Favor heart rate monitor (Polar
CIC Inc., New York) that was strapped around the participant's chest during exercise.
The ACSM (2000) states that there is a linear relationship between heart rate and V02
max and that heart rate is a valid method to estimate exercise intensity. Additionally,
heart rate monitors are an accurate and reliable measure of exercise intensity (ASCM).
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rating of perceived exertion was
determined by the Borg scale (see Appendix F; Borg & Noble, 1974). The Borg scale is
an interval scale ranging from 6 (very light) to 20 (maximal exertion) and mimics the
amount of exertion the heart is experiencing. The larger the number, the higher the heart
rate and thus, more physical exertion is being experienced during the task. RPE is a
reliable measure to indicate an individual's perceived exertion (ACSM, 2000), and it has
demonstrated adequate psychometric properties (Borg & Noble).
Waist-to-hip ratio. Waist-to-hip ratio was calculated by dividing each
participant's waist measurement (cm) by her hip measurement (cm). Waist is measured at
the narrowest part of the torso (above the umbilicus and below the xiphoid process),
while the hip is measured at the maximal circumference of the hips or buttocks region,
whichever is larger (above the gluteal fold). The ratio created by this calculation is a good
indicator of body fat pattern (Bray & Gray, 1988), and health risk, such that health risk is
very high for young women with a waist-to-hip ratio > .82 (ACSM, 2000).
Enjoyability of exercise. Enjoyablility of the exercise session was assessed by
participant ratings on four components of exercise (i.e., speed, incline, intensity level, and
overall exercise experience). A 10-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all enjoyable)
to 10 (completely enjoyable) was used, with a higher score indicating greater enjoyment
(see Appendix G).
Body-image pictures. Sixty pictures of women depicting the "ideal" female body
were selected from popular magazines (i.e., Vogue, Cosmopolitan) and clothing
catalogues (i.e., Victoria's Secret; DeBraganza, 2004). Selection criteria were based on
the procedures of Cusumano and Thompson (1997) and Waller, Hamilton, and Shaw
(1992). Specifically, photographs depicted a single woman, facing front (or within 45 of
facing front), and showing at least three quarters of her body (i.e., head to lower thigh).
The women in the photographs could not contain overlaid type (i.e., advertisements),
masked or obscured by clothing (i.e., no baggy clothing or dark clothing), and were not
selected if they depicted adolescent females.
To choose the nine pictures that best represented the "ideal" female body, a content
analysis was conducted by ten Caucasian women (DeBraganza, 2004). Specifically, each
woman independently rated how closely each picture represented the media ideal by
using a 10-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all representative) to 10 (completely
representative). Because previous research has indicated that between one and nine
pictures produce the greatest experimental effect (Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002), the
9 pictures with the highest scores were included in the picture show.
Control pictures. Nine pictures depicting neutral objects were selected from the
International Affective Picture System (Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 1990). The pictures
were included only if they did not depict human physique, food, or other item that might
elicit negative mood changes in women with high body-image disturbance. Furthermore,
each of these pictures has been tested for eliciting neutral levels of valence and low
arousal (Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert). Specifically, these pictures were of a trashcan,
men's dress shoes, hair dryer, hammer, dustpan, iron, bar stool, fan, and a wicker basket.
Approval from the University's Institutional Review Board was obtained before
beginning the study (see Appendix H). To recruit potential participants, a screening
questionnaire including the LTEQ, Drive for Thinness, Internalization of Media Images
Scale, and basic demographic information (i.e., age, ethnicity, height, and weight) was
given to women enrolled in undergraduate courses in the College of Health and Human
Performance. For a visual depiction of the study procedures see Figure 3-1.
567 women were screened
63 women completed visual analogue scales
Body image Control
Body image Control
Hip and Waist Circumference Measures
Figure 3-1. Dissertation Procedure
Screening procedure. Five hundred sixty-seven undergraduate women were
screened for drive for thinness, internalization of the media ideal, and exercise behavior.
Specifically, Caucasian women scoring in the top one-third of the sample for drive for
thinness and internalization were contacted for participation in a study on "exercise and
mood". Drive for thinness scores were used to identify individuals most at risk for eating
disorder symptoms. The Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire -
Revised was used to identify those most likely to internalize the body-image pictures
used in this study. Women reporting no exercise were not included because the exercise
condition (i.e., moderate intensity) may be unpleasant, thus increasing negative mood
instead of decreasing negative mood (Berger & Motl, 2002). If they agreed to participate,
they were told they would have an equal chance of being in the exercise or quiet rest
groups, and following the exercise/quiet rest they would watch a 2-minute picture show.
If they agreed to participate, an appointment was scheduled and I gave them a
reminder call the night before the appointment. To avoid any expectancy effects,
participants were not told whether they would be exercising or in quiet rest. They were
reminded to come to the lab prepared to either exercise (i.e., exercise clothes, water
bottle, towel) or to bring reading materials (i.e., textbooks, class notes). Additionally,
they were instructed not to exercise on the day of the experiment to avoid any exercise
induced mood changes not elicited by the study.
When participants arrived at the laboratory, they were taken to a private room to
compete the informed consent (see Appendix H) and the first set of visual analogue
scales. Subsequently, they were informed whether they were in the exercise or quiet rest
group. Subsequently, participants were told whether they were randomized into an
exercise or quiet rest group.
Exercise group. The exercise group was asked to complete the PPQ before
exercising. If the participant was at risk (e.g., diagnosed heart condition, dizziness, or
fainting), she was not allowed to participate further. She was then debriefed, and awarded
extra course credit for attending her appointment.
If the participant was at no risk for exercise, she was asked to complete the visual
analogue scales, and then fitted with a heart rate monitor. Instructions were given
regarding safety procedures and the proper use of the treadmill. Each subject was then
instructed to warm up at a mild intensity for the first 5 minutes of exercise. Subsequently,
to make the exercise as enjoyable as possible (Berger & Motl, 2000) participants were
allowed to self-select a speed on the treadmill that would create a "moderate intensity"
exercise bout. After selecting her intensity, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion
was assessed every 5 minutes during the 20-minute workout. If the participant indicated a
rating of perceived exertion between 12 andl6 (ACSM, 1998), they were allowed to
continue with no experimenter comments. If the participant reported a rating of perceived
exertion below 12 or above 16, however, they were reminded to maintain a "moderate
intensity level". Specifically, if the participant reported a number below 12, she was
reminded that the number she reported corresponded to "light" and she needed to
increase her intensity to meet the goal of "moderate intensity". Likewise, if the
participant reported a number above 16, she was reminded that the number she reported
corresponded to "very hard", and she needed to decrease her intensity to meet the goal of
"moderate intensity". After 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, the participants
were asked to slow to a mild walking pace for a 5-minute cool down to allow their heart
rates to return to normal. Total exercise time was 30 minutes. Following the exercise
bout, the participants completed the visual analogue scales.
Quiet rest group. After signing the informed consent, the quiet rest group was
asked to complete the visual analogue scales. Subsequently, their reading materials were
checked to confirm that they were not reading materials did not discuss diet, exercise, or
pictorially depicted an ideal body type (i.e., popular magazines). After I approved the
participant's reading materials, they were allowed to read or sit quietly for 30 minutes.
Because the exercise session required that I stay with the exercise participants throughout
the session and assess RPE and heart rate every 5 minutes, I continued this procedure for
the quiet rest participants as well.
Post-manipulation. After either the exercise/quiet rest session, I left the room and
the participants completed the visual analogue scales for a second time. Subsequently,
participants were led to a second room and left alone to view the picture show.
Specifically, they were seated 1.5 feet (.46 m) from a 16-inch (.40 m) color computer
monitor displaying the picture show. Each picture was shown for 10 seconds, with a 3
second blank screen between each picture. Therefore, participants were exposed to a 1
minute 57 second picture presentation. After the presentation, participants completed the
visual analogue scales for a third time. Finally, body fat composition measurements were
taken for each participant.
All participants were debriefed regarding the true purpose of the study. After
debriefing, they were asked to read and sign a waiver (see Appendix I) that gave them the
option to let me use their data, or withdraw it from the study by taking their visual
analogue scale data with them. Additionally, all participants were given contact
information for the University of Florida Internal Review Board, and pamphlets provided
by the University of Florida Student Infirmary regarding proper nutrition, body image,
and contact information of campus counselors and nutritionists.
First, internal consistency scores (i.e., Chronbach's alpha) were calculated and
interpreted for the Drive for Thinness subscale and the Socioculutural Attitudes Towards
Appearance Questionnaire. Second, means and standard deviations were calculated for
the sample population, participants, and nonparticipants and the data were checked for
skewness and kurtosis to assure that the data met the statistical assumptions for
normality. Third, to verify that the exercise session was adequately enjoyable for the
participants, descriptive statistics were calculated using the enjoyability of exercise
ratings. Fourth, preliminary comparisons for the four experimental conditions were
conducted to verify the effectiveness of the randomization. Finally, to investigate the
effects of exercise/quiet rest on the negative mood states elicited by media/neutral images
a 2 (Experimental Group: exercise vs. quiet rest) X 2 (Picture Type: body image vs.
neutral) X 3 (Time: pre-test; post-test 1, and post-test 2) repeated measures Multiple
Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) for Time was conducted for the four visual analogue
scales. An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical analyses and Tukey's post hoc
was conducted for significant results for Time. Finally, omega squared was conducted to
determine the meaningfulness of the results (co2; Tolson, 1980).
Internal consistency scores (i.e., Chronbach's alpha) for the Drive for Thinness
subscale and the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire (i.e.,
Awareness and Internalization subscales) were calculated (Nunnally, 1978). Because
the alpha value increases with the number of variables, there is no consensus
regarding the interpretation of internal consistency scores. I used the rules for the
interpretation of alpha values described by George and Mallery (2001; see Table 4-1).
Chronbach's Alpha for the Drive for Thinness (a = .89) and Internalization (a = .89)
subscales were good, and the reliability of the Awareness subscale (a = .78) was
Table 4-1. Interpretations of Internal Consistency Scores (George & Mallery, 2001).
Alpha Value Interpretation
> .9 Excellent
> .8 Good
> .7 Acceptable
> .6 Questionable
> .5 Poor
< .5 Unacceptable
Descriptive statistics for the 567 women prescreened for study participation are
presented in Table 4-2. To verify that the prescreen data met the assumptions for
normality, the data were examined for skewness and kurtosis. Although, a value
of zero indicates a normal distribution, values between -2 and +2 are acceptable
criterion for meeting the assumptions of normality (George & Mallery, 2001). Thus,
the sample screened for this experiment (N= 567) met the criterion for normality for
the Drive for Thinness subscale, the Awareness and Internalization subscales of the
Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire, BMI, height, and
strenuous exercise. The data, however, were positively skewed for age, mild, and
Table 4-2. Descriptive Statistics
(n = 567)
Age 19.86 (1.84)
Height (m) 1.63 (.06)
Weight (kg) 60.61 (9.12)
BMI 22.78 (3.12)
Drive for Thinness 5.01 (5.33)
(n = 79) (n = 63)
M (SD) M (SD)
Note. SATAQ = Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance
LTEQ = Leisure-time Exercise Questionnaire
moderate exercise. This skewness may be expected, however, because the
sample was taken from undergraduate courses offered in the College of Health and
Human Performance, which strongly promotes regular exercise.
Inclusion criteria for this study were scoring in the top one-third percentile for
the Drive for Thinness (score > 6) and Internalization subscales (score > 41). Mean
scores and standard deviations for the study variables are presented in Table 4-2. Of
the 142 women who met the inclusion criteria, 2 were unable to participate due to
medical conditions preventing exercise (i.e. broken/sprained limb, illness), 3 did not
wish to participate, 51 did not return phone calls, and 17 women who agreed to
participate failed to attend their scheduled session and did not reschedule. Therefore,
63 women participated in the laboratory portion of the study (see Table 4-2).
Descriptive statistics for the 63 participants are presented in Table 4-2. To
verify that the data met the assumptions for normality, the data were examined for
skewness and kurtosis according to criterion established by George and Mallery
(2001). Thus, the participants' (n = 63) data met the criterion for normality for all of
the study variables including the Drive for Thinness subscale, the Awareness and
Internalization subscales of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance
Questionnaire, BMI, height, weight, hip-to-waist ratio, mild, moderate, and strenuous
exercise, and initial mood scores (i.e., depression, anger, anxiety, and depression).
Several preliminary analyses were conducted to examine differences between
those who participated in the study and those who were selected but chose not to
participate. Specifically, I investigated whether the groups were statistically different
for BMI, Drive for Thinness, the Awareness and Internalization subscales of the
Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire, as well as mild,
moderate, and strenuous exercise behavior. The means and standard deviations for
these variables are listed in Table 4-2.
A one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for BMI revealed no group
differences for those who participated and those who did not participate [F (1, 137) =
.02, p = .88]. Similarly, a one-way ANOVA for drive for thinness showed no group
differences for those who participated compared to those who chose not to participate
[F (1, 140) = .40, p = .53]. Separate one-way MANOVAs were undertaken to
determine group differences for the Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance
Questionnaire (i.e., awareness and internalization subscales) and the Leisure-time
Exercise Questionnaire (i.e., mild, moderate, and strenuous exercise). Results
revealed no significant group differences for the awareness [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F
(1, 140) = 1.12,p = .29, q2 =.008 ] or internalization [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F(1,
140) = .03, p = .86, q2 < .001] subscales for those who participated compared to those
who chose not to participate. Likewise, no significant group differences for mild
[Wilks' Lambda = .99, F(1, 126)= .10, p = .75, r2 = .001], moderate [Wilks'
Lambda = .99, F (1, 126) = .58, p = .45, r2 = .005], or strenuous [Wilks' Lambda =
.99, F (1, 126) = .29, p = .59, q2 =. 002] exercise were evidenced.
Based on the mean responses to the enjoyability of exercise questionnaire, I
was able to verify that the exercise session was a moderately to highly enjoyable
experience for the participants. For speed, participants' ratings ranged from 4 to 10
(M= 7.56). For intensity, the ratings ranged from 1 to 10 (M= 7.31). Ratings of
intensity and overall enjoyability ranged from 5 to 10 with means of 7.75 and 8.06,
To verify that the randomized assignment was effective, separate 2
(experimental group: exercise vs. quiet rest) X 2 (Picture Type: body image vs.
neutral) ANOVAs were conducted for the Drive for Thinness subascale, weight,
BMI, and waist-to-hip ratio. Separate 2 (Experimental Group: exercise vs. quiet rest)
X 2 (Picture Type: body image vs. neutral) MANOVAs were conducted for the
Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance Questionnaire (i.e. awareness and
internalization) exercise behavior (i.e., mild, moderate, strenuous), and initial mood
scores (i.e., anxiety, anger, depression, and body dissatisfaction). See Table 4-3 for
the means and standard deviations for these study variables. Results of these analyses
indicated no significant group differences for Drive for Thinness [F (1, 59) = 2.51,p
= .13], weight [F (1, 57) = 2.41, p = .13], waist-to-hip ratio [F (1, 57) = .43, p = .52],
exercise behavior [Wilks' Lambda = .97, F (3, 49) = .57, p = .64, rq2 = .03], or
Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance [Wilks' Lambda= .93, F (2, 58) = 2.19,
p = .12, r2 = .07]. Results did indicate, however, a significant main effect for picture
type [Wilks' Lambda = .83, F (4, 56) = 2.82,p = .03, r2 = .17] at the initial mood
assessment, such that women scheduled to view the media images had higher body
dissatisfaction at the beginning of the experiment compared to those scheduled to
view the neutral images [F (1, 59) = 6.06, p = .02]. No group differences were
evidenced for anxiety [F (1, 59) =.16,p = .69], anger [F (1, 59)= .27, p = .61], or
depression [F (1, 59) = .07, p = .78].
Table 4-3. Descriptive Statistics for the Four Experimental Groups.
Media (n = 17) Neutral (n = 15)
Age 19.75 (1.14)
Height (m) 1.62 (.07)
Weight (kg) 64.15 (10.41)
BMI 24.47 (3.63)
Waist-to-hip Ratio .77 (.05)
Drive for Thinness 11.12 (4.78)
Awareness 42.94 (3.90)
Internalization 45.77 (3.96)
Leisure-time Exercise (METs)
Strenuous 19.69 (14.41)
Moderate 16.25 (9.22)
Mild 14.25 (6.15)
Initial Mood States
Media (n = 15)
Neutral (n = 16)
Note. SATAQ = Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Exercise Questionnaire. METs
Metabolic Equivalents. BD = Body Dissatisfaction.
Finally, to investigate the effects of exercise/quiet rest on the negative mood
states elicited by media/neutral images a 2 (Experimental Group: exercise vs. quiet
rest) X 2 (Picture Type: body image vs. neutral) X 3 (Time: pre-test; post-test 1, and
post-test 2) repeated measures MANOVA for Time was performed (Heinberg &
Thompson, 1995). Means and standard deviations for each group across time are
presented in Tables 4-4 and 4-5. Results revealed a significant main effect of Picture
Type [Wilks' Lambda = .74, F (4, 56) = 4.85, p = .002, q2 = .26], a significant
maineffect of Time [Wilks' Lambda = .42, F (8, 52) = 8.94, p < .001, rq2 = .58], and a
significant Picture Type by Time interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .64, F (8, 52) = 3.59,
p = .002, q2 = .36]. Follow-up ANOVAs revealed significant Picture Type by Time
interactions for anxiety [F (2, 118) = 3.66, p = .03, w2 = .08], depression [F (2, 118)=
7.53, p = .001, w2 = .17], and body dissatisfaction [F (2, 118) = 12.69, p < .001, c2 =
.26]. Tukey's post hoc analyses revealed that participants viewing the media pictures
reported significant increases in depression (p = .001; see Figure 4-1) and body
dissatisfaction (p < .001; see Figure 4-2) compared to those viewing the neutral
pictures. No significant difference emerged, however, for anxiety (p = 18).
Furthermore, results revealed no significant main effect of Experimental Group
[Wilks' Lambda = .95, F (4, 56) = .80, p = .53]. Likewise, no significant interaction
was evidenced for Experimental Group by Picture Type [Wilks' Lambda = .98, F (4,
56) = .28, p = .89], Experimental Group by Time [Wilks' Lambda = .87, F (8, 52) =
.92, p = .51], or Experimental Group by Picture Type by Time [Wilks' Lambda = .90,
F (8, 52) = .71,p = .68].
Post E/QR Post Pictures
Figure 4-1. Picture Type by Time Interaction For Depression.
-. -- Media
- --- Neutral
Figure 4-2. Picture Type by Time Interaction For Body Dissatisfaction.
S----- ... ..
Table 4-4. Means and Standard Deviations for the Exercise Condition.
Media Pictures (n = 17)
Mood State Initial Post Exercise Post Pictures
Anxiety 2.92 (1.94) 2.06 (2.06) 2.29 (2.02)
Anger 1.26(1.52) .98(1.04) 1.42(1.78)
Depression 2.03 (1.55) 1.45 (1.17) 2.39 (1.92)
Body Dissatisfaction 5.01 (1.68) 3.95 (1.57) 5.11 (2.42)
Table 4-5. Means and Standard Deviations for the Quiet Rest Condition.
Media Pictures (n = 15)
Mood State Initial Post Quiet Rest Post Pictures
Anxiety 1.98 (1.56) 1.50(1.56) 1.78 (1.75)
Anger .96(1.62) .70 (.93) 1.12(1.29)
Depression 1.64(1.90) 1.07(1.35) 2.17(1.70)
Body Dissatisfaction 4.44 (1.15) 3.91 (1.55) 5.16 (1.62)
Neutral Pictures (n
Initial Post Exercise
3.45 (2.49) 1.87 (2.04)
.74 (.74) .64 (.78)
1.95 (1.86) 1.02(1.26)
3.63 (1.91) 3.09 (1.65)
Neutral Pictures (n =
Initial Post Quiet Rest
2.10(2.01) 1.40 (2.37)
.81 (1.44) .73 (1.56)
1.81 (2.54) 1.37(2.24)
3.81 (1.63) 2.72(1.49)
Women's body-image disturbance has increased threefold over the past three
decades (Berschied, Walster, & Bohrnstedt, 1973; Cash, Winstead, & Janda, 1986;
Garner, 1997). To change their appearance, Americans are spending more than $47
billion annually on exercise equipment, dietary supplements, and surgeries (i.e.,
rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction; American Society of Plastic Surgeons,
2002; Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, 1996; Farzan, 1997; National
Nutritional Foods Association, 2002). Changing one's appearance, however, is difficult
and for those who develop body-image disturbances (i.e., eating disorders, body
dysmorphic disorder), the cost of psychological and psychiatric treatment is substantial.
Thus, there is need for practical cost efficient prevention and treatment strategies for
body-image disturbance. Although exercise has recently been proposed as a treatment for
body-image disturbance (Fisher & Thompson, 1994; Koff & Bauman, 1997),
experimental research examining the effect of exercise for body-image disturbance is
limited. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the influence of an
acute bout of aerobic exercise on the negative mood states elicited by exposure to
pictures of the "ideal" female physique portrayed by the media.
Preliminary analyses indicated that the women screened for participation in this
study reported drive for thinness scores similar to the norms established by Garner (1991)
for college women. Similarly, their scores for awareness and internalization were similar
to those reported in previous research (Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; Heinberg,
Thompson, & Stormer, 1995). Furthermore, there were no significant differences
between the women who chose to participate and those who chose not to participate for
any of the study variables. Despite random assignment, preliminary analyses indicated
that the women scheduled to view the media pictures had higher body dissatisfaction at
the beginning of the experiment compared to those scheduled to view the neutral pictures.
It is important to note, however, that the women did not know the content of the slide
show prior to participation in this experiment. More importantly, there were no
significant group differences for body dissatisfaction after the exercise/quiet rest
Consistent with my hypotheses the results of this study indicated that the women
viewing media pictures of the "ideal" body reported more anxiety, depression, and body
dissatisfaction compared to those viewing neutral pictures. No group differences,
however, were evident for anger.
Contrary to my hypothesis, participants who performed an acute bout of aerobic
exercise did not report less anxiety, anger, depression, and body-image dissatisfaction
after viewing the media pictures compared to those participants in the quiet rest
condition. Therefore, this study indicates that acute bouts of exercise may not be an
effective strategy for the prevention and treatment of body-image disturbance elicited by
media pictures. This result, however, may be due to a floor effect for mood scores, such
that the women were reporting low levels of anxiety, anger, and depression at baseline.
Furthermore, high levels of weekly physical activity may have caused the floor effect.
Specifically, the women reported expending an average of 60.12 METs per week during
exercise. If a person were to exercise for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity level 5 days
per week, they would expend about 25 METs per week. Thus, it is possible that
physically active women, such as those in this study, may already be experiencing the
positive effects of exercise for mood and therefore may not experience noticeable
psychological benefits from a single 30-minute acute bout of moderate intensity exercise.
Therefore, future research should test sedentary or low-active populations to examine the
effects of acute exercise on mood and body-image disturbance.
Several other limitations exist within this experiment that must also be considered
when interpreting the results. First, women in the top one-third for drive for thinness and
internalization of the media ideal were selected for participation in this study. Because of
their relatively high levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms, it is
possible that an acute bout of exercise is not enough to produce meaningful changes in
anxiety, anger, depression, and body dissatisfaction. Significant changes may be evident
in a population that experiences lower levels of body disturbance. The results of this
study indicate, however, that those in greatest need of prevention and treatment strategies
for body-image disturbance may not benefiting psychologically from an acute bout of
Second, measurement errors often result from self-report information (Sallis &
Owen, 1998). Participants may unconsciously misrepresent their retrospective
information (i.e., frequency, intensity, and duration of weekly exercise behavior).
Additionally, women who do not wish to be suspected of severe body-image disturbance
or eating disorders may be motivated to give more socially acceptable answers for the
Drive for Thinness and Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire. The
variability introduced by self-report questionnaires (i.e., Leisure-time Exercise
Questionnaire, Drive for Thinness, and Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance
Questionnaire) can be reduced in future research by directly measuring exercise behavior
(i.e., accelerometers), holding clinical interviews, or using a clinically diagnosed
population of eating disordered patients.
Third, because research has indicated that the effects of exercise for mood are
greatest when the exercise is enjoyable (Berger & Motl, 2000), I allowed participants to
self-select their exercise intensity only stipulating that they needed to maintain a
"moderate intensity". Based on the women's ratings for the enjoyability of exercise
measure, this created an exercise session that was moderately to highly enjoyable. Rating
of perceived exertion (Borg & Noble, 1974), however was the only method used to
monitor the intensity of exercise. As long as the women reported a rating of perceived
exertion of 12-16, they were allowed to continue their self-selected exercise intensity. It
is possible, however, that participants were misreporting their exercise intensity such that
they may have reported a moderate intensity but actually maintained a mild exercise
intensity that was not sufficient to produce positive mood effects. Equally likely is that
participants were exercising strenuously thereby preventing positive mood effects. Future
research should reduce the variance in the participants' exercise intensity by asking them
to adhere to a moderate exercise intensity determined by calculating their age predicted
maximum heart rate or conducting V02 max tests. Furthermore, recent research suggests
that enjoyability and psychological benefits of an exercise session can be optimized,
while still controlling for differences in intensity level, by giving participants a choice of
exercise type (i.e., cycle ergometer, treadmill rowing stair climbing or ski simulator;
Daley & Maynard, 2003).
As stated previously, most research examining body image is not theoretically
driven. This study improved upon this limitation by using the Sociocultural Theory to
examine the influence of media on body-image disturbances. Results from this study
substantiate previous research showing that women experience increases in negative
mood states after viewing media's portrayal of the "ideal" female physique (Hausenblas,
Janelle, Gardner, & Focht, 2004; Kalodner, 1997; Waller, Hamilton, & Shaw, 1992).
Future research, however, will benefit from examining body-image disturbance via other
theories. Recently, Bandura (2001) has described how Social Cognitive Theory may be
useful in explaining how the media is used to influence thoughts and change behavior.
Specifically, he proposes a series of personal, behavioral, and environmental
determinants that lead to the imitation of the television world. Specifically, Bandura
points out that the fashion and beauty industry relies almost exclusively on the social
prompting power of modeling by creating a world where women are rewarded for
wearing a certain brand of clothing or using a certain type of beauty product. Repeated
exposure to these images leads to a belief that the commercials represent reality.
Therefore, if they use the product being advertised they will win the admiration of
beautiful people, promotions and raises at work, invite social recognition from total
strangers, and arouse affections from their romantic partner. With this cognitive
reasoning, and the potential incentives for conforming to the commercials, they adopt the
behaviors they see on television and ultimately diffuse these new behaviors into their
social networks where other women are prompted to adopt the new behaviors.
In conclusion, an acute bout of aerobic exercise was not able to significantly reduce
anxiety, anger, depression, or body dissatisfaction for a sample of young, Caucasian
women reporting high levels of drive for thinness and internalization of the media ideal.
Furthermore, an acute bout of aerobic exercise was not able to reduce or prevent the
negative mood states elicited by pictures of the "ideal" female body portrayed by the
mass media compared to quiet rest. Thus, the mass media's portrayal of the "ideal"
female physique remains a powerful influence on the mood and body dissatisfaction of
young women despite overtly engaging in healthy behaviors (i.e., exercise) that might
promote positive changes in health and body composition. Furthermore, future research
should continue to investigate the cognitive and behavioral processes underlying the
development and maintenance of body-image disturbances via theory driven research.
LEISURE-TIME EXERCISE QUESTIONNAIRE
Instructions. This scale measures your leisure-time exercise (i.e., exercise that was done
during your free time such as intramural sports-NOT your physical education class).
Considering a typical week, please indicate how often (on average) you have engaged in
strenuous, moderate, and mild exercise more that 20 minutes during your free time.
1. Strenuous exercise: heart beats rapidly (e.g., running, basketball, jogging, hockey,
squash, judo, roller skating, vigorous swimming, vigorous long distance bicycling,
vigorous aerobic dance classes, heavy weight training). How many times per typical
week do you perform strenuous exercise for 20 minutes or longer?
2. Moderate exercise: not exhausting, light sweating (e.g., fast walking, baseball, tennis,
easy bicycling, volleyball, badminton, easy swimming, popular and folk dancing). How
many times per typical week do you perform moderate exercise for 20 minutes or longer?
3. Mild exercise: minimal effort, no sweating (e.g., easy walking, yoga, archery, fishing,
bowling, lawn bowling, shuffleboard, horseshoes, golf). How many times per typical
week do you perform mild exercise for 20 minutes or longer?
DRIVE FOR THINNESS SUBSCALE EDI-2
Instructions: using the scale provided below, please complete the following questions as
honestly as possible. For each item, decide if the item is true about you never (1), rarely
(2), sometimes (3), often (4), usually (5), or always (6).
1 2 3 4 5 6
never rarely sometimes often usually always
1. I eat sweets and carbohydrates without feeling nervous.
2. I think about dieting.
3. I feel extremely guilty after overeating.
4. I am terrified about gaining weight.
5. I exaggerate or magnify the importance of weight.
6. I am preoccupied with the desire to be thinner.
7. If I gain a pound, I worry that I will keep gaining.
SOCIOCULTURAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS APPEARANCE QUESTIONNAIRE -
REVISED FEMALE VERSION
Read each of the following items, and circle the number that best reflects your agreement
with the statement.
1 2 3 4 5
Completely Neither agree Completely
Disagree nor disagree Agree
1. I would like my body to look like the women who appear in TV shows and
2. I believe that clothes look better on women that are in good physical shape.
3. Music videos that show women who are in good physical shape make me wish
that I were in better physical shape.
4. I do not wish to look like the female models who appear in magazines.
5. I tend to compare my body to TV and movie stars.
6. In our society, fat people are regarded as attractive.
7. Photographs of physically fit women make me wish that I had better muscle tone.
8. Attractiveness is very important if you want to get ahead in our culture.
9. It's important for people to look attractive if they want to succeed in today's
10. Most people believe that a toned and physically fit body improves how you look.
11. People think that the more attractive you are, the better you look in clothes.
12. In today's society, it's not important to always look attractive.
13. I wish I looked like the women pictured in magazines who model underwear.
14. I often read magazines and compare my appearance to the female models.
15. People with well-proportioned bodies look better in clothes.
16. A physically fit woman is admired for her looks more than someone who is not
fit and toned.
17. How I look does not affect my mood in social situations.
18. People find individuals who are in shape more attractive than individuals who
are not in shape.
19. In our culture, someone with a well-built body has a better chance of obtaining
20. I often find myself comparing my physique to that of athletes pictured in
21. I do not compare my appearance to people I consider very attractive.
1. Has a doctor ever said that you have a heart condition AND that you should only do
physical activity recommended by a doctor? Y or N
2. Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity? Y or N
3. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness? Do you ever lose consciousness?
Y or N
4. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your
physical activity? Y or N
5. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (i.e., water pills) for your blood pressure or
heart condition? Y or N
6. Have you been diagnosed with asthma or exercise induced asthma? Y or N
7. Have you been diagnosed with Diabetes I or II? Y or N
8. Do you know of any other medical reason that you should not do physical activity?
Y or N
If you answered YES to any of the above questions please take the time to thoroughly
explain your illness/injury. Include the following information: when the injury happened
or when the illness was diagnosed, any medications that you are taking, any specific
considerations we should take to ensure your safety while involved in this study.
The information that I have provided on this form is true and complete to the best of my
Current Blood Pressure: /date: initials:
MOOD VISUAL ANALOGUE SCALES
Instructions. Please draw a vertical line perpendicularly across the horizontal line at the
location that best describes how you feel right now for each of the 4 questions below.
Worst Anxiety Possible
Worst Depression Possible
Worst Anger Possible
Worst Body Dissatisfaction
No Body Dissatisfaction
RATING OF PERCEIVED EXERTION
7 Very, very light
9 Very light
11 Fairly light
13 Somewhat hard
17 Very hard
19 Very, very hard
ENJOYABILITY OF EXERCISE QUESTIONNAIRE
Instructions: Using the following scale, indicate how enjoyable of each component of
the exercise session was for you.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
not at all completely
Overall exercise experience
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD
1. TITLE OF PROJECT:
Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood and Body Dissatisfaction
2. PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR(s):
Elizabeth A. Fallon, M.S.E.S.S., graduate student, Department of Exercise and Sport
Sciences, Phone: (352) 392-0580 x 1389, Email: FallonEA@hhp.ufl.edu
Heather A. Hausenblas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences,
110 Florida Gym, Phone: (352) 392-0584, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. DATES OF PROPOSED PROJECT: From: 10/03 To: 10/04
5. SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR THE PROJECT: No funding is provided.
6. SCIENTIFIC PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATION:
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of an acute bout of aerobic
exercise on the negative mood states and body dissatisfaction elicited by media images of
the ideal female body.
7. DESCRIBE THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY IN NON-TECHNICAL
Female participants will be recruited from undergraduate courses. Specifically, they will
be identified through a screening questionnaire, and will be called for participation if they
report high levels of body disturbance, high levels of media internalization, and low
levels of exercise.
Participants meeting the screening criteria are called for a study on "exercise and mood".
If they agree to participate, they are randomly assigned to an exercise or quiet rest
condition. When they arrive at the laboratory, they are taken to a private room and are
asked to read and sign the informed consent. If they agree to participate, they complete
the mood questionnaire (see attached) for the first time.
Quiet Rest Condition: Participants are asked to study materials from the university course
of their choice for 30 minutes.
Exercise Condition: Participants are given a pre-exercise participation questionnaire (see
attached) that identifies any health reasons the individual may have that would keep them
from engaging in moderate intensity exercise. If the participant answers "yes" to any of
the questions, they are told they can not participate, debriefed regarding the purpose of
the study, and given their extra credit/phone card. If the participant answers "No" to all of
the questions, they are given instructions on how to use the treadmill, including safety
precautions for treadmill use. Subsequently, they are asked to self-select a speed on the
treadmill that would satisfy a "mild warm-up speed". After 5 minutes of warm-up, the
participant is asked to select a "moderate exercise speed" for 20 minutes. At the end of
the 20-minute moderate intensity exercise session, the participant is asked to select a
"cool down speed" for 5 minutes. For the entire 30 minutes, heart rate and rating of
perceived exertion is recorded every 3 minutes. If the individual exceeds 85% of their age
predicted maximum or 17 on the RPE (see attached), they are asked to reduce their
exercise intensity, and heart rate and RPE are monitored each minute until they are below
85% of age predicted max and 17 RPE. These safety precautions are in accordance with
exercise testing instructions provided by the American College of Sports Medicine, 2000.
After the exercise/quiet rest condition, the participants complete the mood questionnaire
for a second time. Subsequently, they watch a 2-minute picture show on a computer
screen in a private room. There are 9 pictures of either women in the media that depict
the "ideal female body" or of neutral control slides. The media pictures were obtained
from popular women's magazines (i.e., Vogue, Cosmo) and common clothing catalogues
(Victoria's Secret). The neutral slides are taken from the IAPS photos (Lang et al) and are
of neutral objects (i.e., trash can, electrical socket). After viewing the pictures, and
completing the mood questionnaire for a 3rd time, participants are debriefed regarding the
true purpose of the study, and asked to sign whether they are still willing to let us use
their data (see attached). If they choose not to let us use their data, they are asked to take
their questionnaires with them when they leave.
8. POTENTIAL BENEFITS AND ANTICIPATED RISK:
The risks associated with this experiment are minimal to moderate. Specifically, the risks
are less than or equal to that of engaging in aerobic exercise on a treadmill at any health
club or gym. Furthermore, precautions are taken to reduce the risks are associated with
treadmill exercise. A par-q is required before participation (see attached), specific
instructions regarding proper use and safety features of the treadmill are given, and the
experimenter is giving one-on-one supervision for the entirety of the exercise session,
including heart rate and rating of perceived exertion assessments.
All participants will receive either extra course credit or a 60-minute phone card for their
participation. Additionally, because all of the participants scored highly on the drive for
thinness and media internalization scales, they will be given a packet including IRB
contact information, and pamphlets discussing nutrition, eating disorders, and contact
information of campus counselors obtained at the University of Florida Infirmary.
9. DESCRIBE HOW SUBJECTS WILL BE RECRUITED, THE NUMBER AND AGE
OF THE SUBJECT, AND THE PROPOSED MONETARY COMPENSATION:
Approximately 300 females enrolled in various undergraduate classes at the University of
Florida will be given a screening questionnaire (see attached). Based on answers to the
screening questionnaire, 100 women between the ages of 18 and 25 will be called to
participate in the study.
While there is NO monetary compensation, the participant can choose between extra
course credit or a 60-minute phone card for participation.
10. DESCRIBE THE INFORMED CONSENT PROCESS. INCLUDE A COPY OF
THE INFORMED CONSENT DOCUMENT:
See the attached informed consent forms.
Principal Investigator' Signature: Supervisor's Signature:
Elizabeth A. Fallon Dr. Heather A. Hausenblas
I approve this protocol for submission to the UFIRB:
Dept. Chair Signature:
Project Title: Exercise and Mood
Principal Investigators: Elizabeth A. Fallon M.S., Graduate Student, Department of
Exercise and Sport Sciences
Supervisor: Heather A. Hausenblas PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of
Exercise and Sport Sciences
Purpose and Testing Procedure: The purpose of this study is to investigate the
effects of 1 bout of aerobic exercise or quiet rest on mood. Specifically, you will be
asked to complete a pre-test questionnaire, engage in exercise or a quiet rest condition
for 30 minutes, and complete the questionnaire for a second time. Subsequently, you
will view 9 pictures on a computer screen and complete the questionnaire for a final
time. The experiment will take about 1 hour.
Risk and Confidentiality: Minimal risk is associated with this experiment.
Specifically, a person may become injured while participating in exercise on the
treadmill, but the risk is no greater than that of exercising at a gym or fitness center.
Additionally, a person may become more aware of their mood states via answering
Participants will receive either extra course credit, or a 60-minute phone card for their
Any information that is collected is confidential; names are not linked to the data in
any way, because a participant number codes all data. Furthermore, all data is kept
locked inside the Exercise Psychology Laboratory and can only be accessed by the
experimenters directly involved with this study.
Participation in this study is strictly voluntary. If at any time you want to withdraw
from the study for any reason, you will not be penalized and you will receive your
extra course credit/phone card.
Additional Questions or Information: If at any time you have any questions or
concerns about the study, please direct them to the supervising professor of this study,
Dr. Heather Hausenblas 392-0584. If you have any questions or concerns regarding
participants' rights, please contact the UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250, 392-0433.
I have read the policies and procedures described in this informed consent and I
voluntarily agree to participate in this study.
Participant's signature: date:
DEBRIEFING SIGNATURE FORM
Originally, you were told that the title of this study was "exercise & mood". This is
true, but the study also investigated the effects of exercise on body dissatisfaction.
This information was intentionally kept from you so you would be more likely to
respond freely to the questions.
Because we kept the full purpose of the study from you, we would like to confirm
that we have your permission to use your data. If so, you may sign the "YES" line. If
you do not wish us to use your data, you may sign the "NO" line and take your data
sheets with you when you leave the laboratory. No matter which line you sign, you
will be given your extra course credit or phone card.
I understand that the purpose of this study was to better understand the effects of
acute exercise/quiet rest on mood (i.e., anger, depression, and anxiety) as well as
Additionally, I know that I have the choice to agree to allow the researchers to use my
data or take it with me when I leave. Whichever choice I make, I will still receive my
extra course credit or 60-minute phone card.
YES, I will allow the researchers to use my data. Date:
NO, I will not allow the researchers to use my data. (Please take data sheets with
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In 1976, Elizabeth Anne Fallon was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Raised in
Birmingham, Alabama, she graduated in 1994 with an advanced high school degree from
Pelham High School, Pelham Alabama. In 1998, she graduated with a Bachelor of
Science degree specializing in psychology from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Subsequently, she began her master's and PhD
program in the College of Health and Human Performance specializing in sport and
exercise psychology with a minor in social and health psychology.