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Beyond the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Life Satisfaction – Examining Two Aspects of Adolescent’s Physical Self-Concept

Meyer, Silvia. Beyond the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Life Satisfaction – Examining Two Aspects of Adolescent’s Physical Self-Concept. 2021, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.

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Abstract

Subjective well-being is crucial during the developmental stage of adolescence. It affects a large range
of developmental outcomes, such as psychological functioning during the transition to adulthood. Although the
link between physical activity and well-being or mental health is one of the oldest areas of study in psychology,
identifying the protective factors and specifically the beneficial role of physical activity in adolescents’ wellbeing
have become topics of interest particularly in the last decade. Despite this recent attention, the
underlying or psychological mechanisms of the link between physical activity and well-being are still poorly
understood. This dissertation, therefore, aims to shed more light on the role of aspects of the physical selfconcept
in the relation between physical activity and the cognitive aspect of subjective well-being—life
satisfaction—in adolescents. Furthermore, it takes a closer look at how different these relations are across the
sexes and explores if there is a stress-buffering effect of physical activity on life satisfaction. To that end, three
studies, using multinational or longitudinal data, are presented in this dissertation. Multilevel methods were
used and three-way interactions were modeled to gain more understanding of the role of weight perceptions
and social physique anxiety in the link between physical activity and life satisfaction.
The results of this work suggest a mediating role of weight perceptions and a moderating role of social
physique anxiety in the relationship between physical activity and life satisfaction. Specifically, negative weight
perceptions partly explained the relationship, as physical activity was negatively correlated with under- and
overweight perceptions, which in turn were negatively correlated with life satisfaction. Social physique anxiety,
on the other hand, weakened the link between physical activity and life satisfaction, suggesting that only
adolescents with low anxiety levels can benefit from physical activity in that matter. Further, results reveal
significant sex differences in these mediating and moderating effects, suggesting that the link between physical
activity and life satisfaction appears to be of different strength for male adolescents compared to female
adolescents and that they might cope differently with body-related perceptions and anxieties. Last, this work
demonstrates that a stress-buffering effect of physical activity on life satisfaction is dependent on intrinsic
motivation, providing further evidence about the circumstances under which physical activity and life
satisfaction are connected.
This dissertation provides new insights on how to see beyond the relationship between physical activity
and life satisfaction in adolescents, bringing into the discussion the role of two aspects of the physical selfconcept,
weight perception and social physique anxiety. Additionally, it sheds more light on important sex
differences that suggest there is a reason to treat male and female adolescents differently in physical activity
settings.
Advisors:Grob, Alexander and Gerber, Markus
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Persönlichkeits- und Entwicklungspsychologie > Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie (Grob)
UniBasel Contributors:Meyer, Silvia and Grob, Alexander and Gerber, Markus
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:14580
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:VI, 99
Language:English
Identification Number:
  • urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-bau-diss145801
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:15 Feb 2022 10:59
Deposited On:25 Jan 2022 10:32

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