MacIntyre, Rachel I.
Old Dominion University
Exercise is highly recommended by health professionals due to its numerous health benefits, yet little is known about the social factors that influence people’s motivation to exercise each day. Studies on social comparisons reveal that college women frequently evaluate their weight and shape compared to those around them through upward body-focused comparisons (i.e., comparing themselves to someone they perceive to be thinner or in better physical shape). Research suggests these comparisons can be driven by two different motivations, self-evaluation and self-improvement. However, the occurrence of these two different types of motivations in everyday life and how they may be associated with different levels of body dissatisfaction and exercise behaviors have yet to be examined in an ecologically valid study. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the way in which women seek and internalize daily upward body-focused social comparisons, in a self-evaluation or a self-improvement manner, is associated with different levels of body dissatisfaction, exercise intentions, and behaviors.