The relationship of personality to body image in adult women and the effect of exercise on this relationship
This study was undertaken in order to investigate the relationship between personality and body image, and to ascertain the effect of exercise on measures of personality, body image and somatotype. The subjects were 50 adult women in the age range 18-37 years who were assigned to either an exercising or non-exercising group at random. Body image was measured using the Slade Body Image Estimation Apparatus and an Abacus. Personality was assessed by means of the Eysenck Personality Inventory and the Cattell Sixteen Personality Questionnaire. The subjects were also somatotyped by the Heath- Carter Method. Physical fitness scores, obtained for each individual before and after the conditioning programme, were based on the criterion of Ismail (1965). The pre- and post-conditioning programme results obtained were analysed by repeated measures of analysis of variance, principal components analysis and discriminant function analysis. The main findings were: - (a) Two significant relationships between personality and body image existed in the study groups. These were an association between overall inaccuracy in body image estimation and Eysenck's neuroticism/extraversion, and correlation between accuracy in estimation of the Face and dominance and aggressiveness. (b) Changes in personality through participation in exercise were found to be much less marked than hitherto suggested, with only Cattell's 16PF Q4 varying significantly, and some evidence for reduction in the EPI neuroticism factor. (c) Repeated measures of analysis of variance showed a significant effect of exercise on body weight, percentage body fat, Ismail Fitness Score and on the Endomorphy component of the Heath-Carter somatotype. (d) No significant changes in body image estimation could be demonstrated in the exercising group; there was nevertheless an association between fitness levels and body image.