Effects of Sport Pressures on Female Collegiate Athletes: A Preliminary Longitudinal Investigation

Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 04/2012; 1(2):120-134. DOI: 10.1037/a0026587


Female athletes have been identified as a population at risk for disordered eating, and a recent theoretical model (Petrie & Greenleaf, in press) has identified sociocultural factors that may define that risk. In this study, we examined three central constructs in the model—sport pressures regarding body, weight, and appearance; body dissatisfaction; and dietary restraint—within a sample of female collegiate gymnasts and swimmers/divers. Using cross-lagged panel analyses, we determined that sport pressures and dietary restraint remained highly stable over the course of a 5-month competitive season. As expected, Time 1 sport pressures predicted increases in body dissatisfaction at Time 2; no similar effects were found, however, on dietary restraint. Our findings provide direction for interventions that could reduce female athletes' risk of developing disordered eating by targeting messages, ideals, and behaviors within the sport environment that communicate the supposed importance of weight loss and appearance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    ABSTRACT: Male athletes are subject to sociocultural pressures to attain a lean and muscular physique (e.g., media images), as well as weight pressures from the sport environment (e.g., performance). The purpose of our study was to examine the validity and reliability of a scale designed to measure sport-specific weight pressures in male athletes, the Weight Pressures in Sport Scale for Male Athletes (WPS-M). We examined the factorial validity of the WPS-M, and established the factors’ reliability. Further, we tested the convergent and concurrent validity of the WPS-M factors through associations with the theoretically related constructs of body satisfaction, internalization, drive for muscularity, dietary restraint, bulimic symptomology, and general weight pressures for men. Finally, we determined the factors’ incremental validity by examining the extent to which the WPS-M factors predicted relevant outcomes beyond that determined by general sociocultural pressures about weight, body, and appearance. Participants were 698 male intercollegiate athletes from multiple states, sports, and competitive levels. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed three latent factors: (a) Coach/Teammate Pressures about Weight, (b) Importance of Body Weight and Appearance, and (c) Pressures about Weight and Body due to the Sport Uniform. Relationships with related constructs were mostly significant and in the expected direction. Regression analyses supported the utility of the WPS-M for predicting variance in disordered eating beyond that determined by general sociocultural weight pressures. In the future, researchers should employ longitudinal designs and recruit diverse samples of male athletes in order to assess temporal relationships and measurement invariance.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Psychology of Men & Masculinity
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    ABSTRACT: Due to pressures within the sport environment, such as from coaches, teammates, uniforms and judges, female athletes may develop unhealthy eating practices to lose weight or change their body size/shape to become more competitive and meet societal and sport-related physique ideals. However, up until the development of the Weight Pressures in Sport for Females (WPS-F; Reel, SooHoo, Petrie, Greenleaf, & Carter, 2010) there was no way to quantify sport-specific weight pressures with female athletes. In this study, the psychometric properties of the scale were further examined using a sample of 414 female collegiate athletes. Sample 1 [n=207; M=19.27years; SD=1.16] and Sample 2 [n=207; M=19.19years; SD=1.66] participants were of a similar age and were used for exploratory and confirmatory analyses respectively. A two factor structure was confirmed and it was established that the scale was unique from general sociocultural pressures that all women experience, predicting female athletes' internalization, body dissatisfaction, dietary intent, and bulimic symptomatology. Specifically, the following factors, Coach and Sport Pressures about Weight (Factor 1) and Pressures Regarding Appearance and Performance (Factor 2), were found to have strong internal consistency and the emerging reliable and valid WPS-F has practical implications for screening and identifying weight-related sport pressures within female athletes. WPS-F can also serve to educate sport professionals about environmental pressures so that disordered eating and body image disturbances can be prevented.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Eating behaviors
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To examine the relationship of four psychosocial constructs – body dissatisfaction, restrained eating, drive for muscularity, and negative affect – that have been identified as potential risk factors for bulimic symptoms in male athletes. Design We used a cross-sectional design and self-report questionnaires. Methods Participants were 203 male, NCAA Division I athletes who were drawn from three different U.S. universities and who competed in 17 different varsity sports. Athletes completed self-report measures of body satisfaction, dietary restraint, drive for muscularity (i.e., muscularity behaviors, muscular body image), negative affect (i.e., fear, hostility, guilt, sadness), and bulimic symptomatology. Results After controlling for the effects of body mass and social desirability, hierarchical regression analysis showed that the psychosocial variables explained an additional 21% of the variance in bulimic symptoms. In the full model, engaging in muscle building behaviors (β = .16), such as lifting weights, as well as restricting caloric intake (β = .33) were associated with higher levels of bulimic symptomatology; negative affect and body dissatisfaction were not. Conclusions Male athletes' bulimic symptomatology is best explained by the extent to which they report engaging in behaviors to become leaner (i.e., less body fat) and more muscular.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Psychology of Sport and Exercise
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