Cognitive indices of physical self-perception: relationships with physical activity

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Moore, Justin Brian

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Self-esteem has been linked to numerous conditions such as depression, and along with physical self-worth, can be considered an important marker of psychological health. The first model proposed to explain the relationship between physical activity, physical self worth and self-esteem was the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model (EXSEM). The EXSEM has been supported in numerous studies despite the inability of the current measurement tools to test the complete model. The measurement conundrum was addressed Marsh (1994) with the development of the Physical Self-Descriptive Questionnaire (PSDQ). The PSDQ was designed to encompass more of the physical self previously ignored in other measurement tools. However, the PSDQ has been utilized exclusively in adolescents and requires validation in adult populations. To further address shortcomings of the EXSEM measurement model the Physical Self-Attribute Questionnaire was developed (Moore, Bartholomew, & Kilpatrick, In Review). Unfortunately, to date the PSAQ has not been utilized in a population homogeneous in regard to physical activity, nor has it been utilized with a proven measure of physical activity. Older adults have been shown to benefit greatly from physical activity, and vary greatly with regards to their physical activity levels. Regrettably, research involving older adults and the EXSEM is very limited. It is for this reason that this dissertation is being undertaken; to test the PSDQ in a population of older adults while testing the utility of the PSDQ as an addition to the EXSEM. For this purpose, 249 community dwelling older (60+) adults were recruited from a large community faith based organization. Participants completed the PSDQ, PSAQ, and a measure of self-reported physical activity, health history, and demographic information. The factor structure of the PSDQ was replicated in the study population and the sub-scales of the PSDQ demonstrated desirable internal reliability. Additionally, the PSDQ explained a significant amount of variance in self-reported physical activity. Furthermore, the PSAQ demonstrates considerable utility in explaining both unique variance in physical activity, and indirect effects through the sub-domains measured by the PSDQ. The current study supports the use of the PSDQ and the PSAQ in the measurement of the EXSEM. However, further research is needed utilizing larger samples before conclusions can be reached.