The role of appearance-related self-conscious emotions in sport participation among adolescent girls


Despite well-documented benefits of sport participation in adolescence, girls are less likely to participate, commit to and enjoy sport compared to boys. Due to the highly evaluative social nature of sport, body-related self-conscious emotions may be important yet understudied predictors of sport participation outcomes. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to (i) assess changes in appearance-related self-conscious emotions (e.g., shame, envy and pride) and (ii) predict changes to sport commitment, enjoyment, and competitive anxiety outcomes across 1-year and two competitive seasons. Adolescent girls participating in organized sport (n = 215; Mage = 14.15 ± 1.36 years, MBMI = 19.91 ± 2.82) reported significantly higher appearance-related shame and envy and significantly lower pride (p < .001) in the follow-up competitive season. Changes in appearance-related shame (ß = -0.21) significantly predicted sport enjoyment (R2adj = 0.05, p < 0.05). Similarly changes in appearance-related shame (ß = -0.31) predicted changes in sport commitment (R2adj = 0.13, p < 0.05). Meanwhile, changes in appearance-related envy (ß = 0.25) significantly predicted competitive anxiety (R2adj = 0.20, p < 0.05). Based on these findings, appearance-related self-conscious emotions are associated with poorer sport outcomes longitudinally for girls engaged in sport. Strategies are needed to reduce negative and increase positive self-conscious emotions in hopes of fostering adaptive sport outcomes in adolescent girls.