Social physique anxiety: personality constructs, motivations, exercise attitudes, and behaviors

Percept Mot Skills. 1996 Jun;82(3 Pt 1):963-72. doi: 10.2466/pms.1996.82.3.963.


Social physique anxiety is a feeling of distress associated with the perceived evaluation of one's physical self. Since its inception, the construct has been associated with a variety of exercise-related constructs including perceived competence, self-consciousness, and the exercise milieu individuals choose. The present purpose was to relate social physique anxiety to participants' attitudes toward exercise, adherence behaviors, participation motivation, personality variables, and emotional attitude toward exercise, 326 university fitness-center participants were surveyed and asked for demographic information, to self-report their exercise habits, and to answer questions measuring the construct, motivation, personality, and attitudes toward exercise. Women had higher scores on the Social Physique Anxiety Scale than men; individuals who scored high were more likely to endorse extrinsic motives for exercise than individuals scoring low on the scale, and high scores were indicative of higher public body awareness. Individuals with high scores on the Social Physique Anxiety Scale exhibited an emotional profile similar to addicted exercisers. Given these results, implications for alleviation of such anxiety were discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Personality Inventory*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology
  • Social Environment*
  • Students / psychology