Perfectionism in athletes and non-athletes: Effects on social physique anxiety and body satisfaction


In today's culture, the body appears to have become a main focus. Increased use of image based social media sites appear to reinforce a focus on body ideals and related body image concerns. Nonetheless, individuals appear to differ with regard to vulnerability to such influences. The purpose of the present study was to examine how perfectionism [self-oriented (SOP) or socially-prescribed (SPP)] and athletic status (athlete vs non-athlete) might interact to influence body satisfaction, appearance investment and social physique anxiety in individuals. Athletic status was assessed using both a perceived athlete and an objective athlete definition based on responses to related questions. Participants included a post-secondary sample of 208 men and women aged 17-24 years. They agreed to participate in an online study of how personality and athletic status influence feelings towards oneself and related behaviours. Findings revealed both significant interaction and main effects on the outcome variables of interest, with the pattern of results differing based on athletic status definition and the specific perfectionism facet. Implications of these findings are discussed. Additionally, these results provide evidence for more closely examining the role of one's perceived athletic status as a unique risk factor in appearance and body related concerns. The findings of this study may assist in better identifying individuals at risk for negative self-body perceptions and their related compensatory behaviours, such as the use of appearance and performance enhancing drugs.

Acknowledgments: Chantal Arpin-Cribbie