Date of Award

6-8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Maureen McHugh, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Donald Robertson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laurie Roehrich, Ph.D.

Abstract

Body image research among female athletes has tended to examine the detrimental effects of participation in "thin" sports such as gymnastics and dance. The present study explores positive and negative effects of athletic participation as well as the impact of level of competition on body image among female collegiate volleyball players. Female collegiate volleyball players and non-athletes were administered measures investigating current and ideal body physiques, body dissatisfaction, social physique anxiety, body appreciation, and sociocultural attitudes toward appearance. Results indicate that volleyball players internalize the athletic ideal more than non-athletes, and idealize a heavier (although still very thin) and more athletic physique. However, athletes at the highest level of competition were more dissatisfied with their bodies than non-athletes and saw their bodies as larger. Using discriminant analysis, emphasis on the athletic physique and body dissatisfaction were found to best differentiate between athletes and non-athletes. Distinguishing between levels of competition among volleyball players was more challenging, but individuals participating at the most competitive level were best identified by their degree of internalization of sociocultural body image influences and perception of their actual body as highly athletic. This study suggest athletes' and non-athletes' have different body images, particularly in terms of the heavier emphasis on athletic bodies among volleyball players. While this illustrates a positive effect of athletic participation on body image, body dissatisfaction becomes increasingly evident when women believe they have failed to achieve this athletic ideal, particularly among elite level athletes.

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