The Presence of an Exercise Instructor or Group Members Affects Physical Self-Concept and Physical Self-Esteem: An Experimental Study in the Elderly

Full-Text HTML XML Download Download as PDF (Size:1523KB) PP. 1616-1627
DOI: 10.4236/health.2014.613194    2,359 Downloads   3,342 Views   Citations


Background: Physical self-concept and physical self-esteem are important sources of general self-esteem and overall health. Evidence indicates that exercise leads to an enhancement in physical self-concept and physical self-esteem. Until now however, it remained unclear whether the beneficial effects of exercise were impacted by different types of exercise environments. Thus, the purpose of this study was to experimentally investigate, whether the presence or absence of an instructor or other group members influenced elder adults’ physical self-concept and esteem. Method: Participants were 46 women and 20 men (Mean age 65.4, SD = 4.36) who were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups differing across two factors—group versus no-group and instructor versus no-instructor. Participants took part in an 8-week-walking program with a comparable number of training sessions across the four experimental groups. Physical self-concept and physical self-esteem were assessed both pre and post exercise intervention. Results: Descriptively, the highest improvement in physical self-concept and esteem were observed in the instructor/no-group and the no-instructor/group condition. Between these two conditions, no significant difference of change was observed. Moreover, no improvement was observed when both instructor and group were present. Conclusion: Effects of either instructor presence or group presence may be explained by mechanisms of social integration and social support. An unexpected absence of effects on self-concept and esteem under the instructor/group condition are explained with reference to an individual’s cognitive dissonance caused by the need to adapt to different exercise oriented goals or attitudes of the instructor and the group members which might hinder the positive development of the self.

Cite this paper

Kleinert, J. , Pels, F. and Podlog, L. (2014) The Presence of an Exercise Instructor or Group Members Affects Physical Self-Concept and Physical Self-Esteem: An Experimental Study in the Elderly. Health, 6, 1616-1627. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.613194.


[1] Diener, E. (1984) Subjective Well-Being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
[2] Swann, W.B. and Bosson, J.K. (2010) Self and Identity. In: Fiske, S.T., Gilbert, D.T. and Lindzey, G., Eds., Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition, Wiley, Hoboken, 589-628.
[3] Fox, K.R. (2000) The Effects of Exercise on Self-Perceptions and Self-Esteem. In: Biddle, S.J., Fox, K.R. and Boutcher, S.H., Eds., Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being, Routledge, London, 88-117.
[4] Thoits, P.A. (2011) Mechanisms Linking Social Ties and Support to Physical and Mental Health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52, 145-161.
[5] Ferreira, J.P., Teixeira, A.M., Massart, A.G. and Filaire, E. (2013) Assessing Self-Esteem and Perceived Physical Competence in Elderly Using the Physical Self-Perception Profile. European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity, 6, 7-18.
[6] Robins, R.W., Trzesniewski, K.H., Tracy, J.L., Gosling, S.D. and Potter, J. (2002) Global Self-Esteem across the Life Span. Psychology and Aging, 17, 423-434.
[7] Torres, R. and Fernández, F. (1995) Self-Esteem and Value of Health as Determinants of Adolescent Health Behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health, 16, 60-63.
[8] Fox, K.R. and Corbin, C. (1989) The Physical Self-Perception Profile: Development and Preliminary Validation. Journal of Sports & Exercise Psychology, 11, 408-430.
[9] Sonstroem, R. and Morgan, W. (1989) Exercise and Self-Esteem: Rationale and Model. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 21, 329-337.
[10] Marsh, H.W., Asci, F.H. and Tomás, I.M. (2002) Multitrait Multimethod Analyses of Two Physical Self-Concept Instruments: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 24, 99-119.
[11] Netz, Y., Wu, M.-J., Becker, B.J. and Tenenbaum, G. (2005) Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being in Advanced Age: A Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies. Psychology and Aging, 20, 272-284.
[12] McAuley, E., Blissmer, B., Katula, J., Duncan, T.E. and Mihalko, S.L. (2000) Physical Activity, Self-Esteem, and Self-Efficacy Relationships in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 22, 131-139.
[13] Alfermann, D. and Stoll, O. (2000) Effects of Physical Exercise on Self-Concept and Well-Being. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 30, 47-65.
[14] Cohen, S. (2004) Social Relationships and Health. American Psychologist, 59, 676-684.
[15] Hogg, M.A. and Turner, J.C. (1985) Interpersonal Attraction, Social Identification and Psychological Group Formation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 15, 51-66.
[16] Prapavessis, H. and Carron, A.V. (1996) The Effect of Group Cohesion on Competitive State Anxiety. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 18, 64-74.
[17] Spink, K.S. and Carron, A.V. (1992) Group Cohesion and Adherence in Exercise Classes. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 14, 78-86.
[18] McAuley, E., Blissmer, B., Marquez, D.X., Jerome, G.J., Kramer, A.F. and Katula, J. (2000) Social Relations, Physical Activity and Well-Being in Older Adults. Preventive Medicine, 31, 608-617.
[19] Borg, G. (1982) Psychophysical Bases of Perceived Exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 14, 377-381.
[20] Marsh, H.W. and Redmayne, R. (1994) A Multidimensional Physical Self-Concept and Its Relations to Multiple Components of Physical Fitness. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 16, 43-55.
[21] Stiller, J., Würth, S. and Alfermann, D. (2004) Die Messung des physischen Selbstkonzepts (PSK): Zur Entwicklung der PSK-Skalen für Kinder, Jugendliche und Junge Erwachsene. Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 25, 239-257.
[22] Reinboth, M. and Duda, J.L. (2004) The Motivational Climate, Perceived Ability, and Athletes’ Psychological and Physical Well-Being. The Sport Psychologist, 18, 237-251.
[23] Chanal, J.P., Marsh, H.W., Sarrazin, P.G. and Bois, J.E. (2005) Big-Figh-Little-Pond Effects on Gymnastics Self-Concept: Social Comparison Processes in a Physical Setting. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 27, 53-70.
[24] Fox, K.R. (1997) The Physical Self and Processes in Self-Esteem Development. In: Fox, K.R., Ed., The Physical Self. From Motivation to Well-Being, Human Kinetics, Champaign, 111-140.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2017 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.