Are Self-affirmation Interventions Effective in Reducing Excessive Exercise Behavior?

Pang-Yia K. Vick-Xiong, Victoria L. Schantz, Jackie Paulsen, Jonathan Ochoa, Dr. Erin Hillard, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Parkside, 900 Wood Rd, Kenosha, WI 53144

The purpose of the current study is to assess the effect of an online self-affirmation intervention on excessive exercising behavior and attitudes as well as body image-related outcomes among college men and women. Excessive exercise is tied to an intense drive to control body image and weight along with acting as a mood enhancer for many people. Research suggests that those who over-exercise are more likely to develop an eating disorder, experience behavioral abnormalities, and have increased suicidal tendencies. Current research suggests that both men and women engage in excessive exercise behavior, though past prevention and intervention research has largely focused on college women. The current study attempts to apply a well-validated psychological intervention to a relatively understudied domain of health-related behavior to decrease both college men’s and women’s excessive exercise behaviors and attitudes. Our participants are undergraduate students at a mid-sized, Midwestern university, solicited from introductory and other psychology classes. Eligible participants are randomly assigned to either a self-affirmation-based manipulation or a neutral control condition. Following the intervention (or control condition), all participants read a newsletter about excessive exercise and associated risks, and complete a follow-up questionnaire assessing their attitudes toward excessive exercise and intentions to reduce or avoid engagement in overexercising. We expect to find evidence supporting the use of self-affirmation interventions in the prevention of excessive exercise behavior in college men and women. We hypothesize that men and women who undergo the self-affirmation intervention will show reduced intentions to engage in excessive exercise behavior as well as less positive attitudes toward excessive exercise in the future. Findings will be discussed in the context of current prevention strategies targeting excessive exercise and body image, as well as the importance of including men in prevention and intervention research in the field of disordered eating research.  

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Pang-Yia Vick-Xiong, Jonathan Ochoa

Institution: University of Wisconsin - Parkside

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7110