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Herbert W. Marsh

Theoretical models of relations between specific components of physical self-concept, global physical self-concept, and global esteem are evaluated. Self-concept models posit that the effect of a specific domain (e.g., strength, endurance, or appearance) on global components should vary with the importance an individual places on the specific domain, but empirical support for this prediction is weak. Fox (1990) incorporated a related assumption into his hierarchical model of physical self-concept, but did not test this assumption. In empirical tests based on responses to the newly developed Physical Self-Description Questionnaire, relations between specific and global components of physical self-concept did not vary with the perceived importance of the specific component, and unweighted averages of specific components were as highly related to global components as importance weighted averages. These results provide no support for the importance of importance in modifying relations between domain-specific and general components of self-concept.

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Jennifer Wright and Jo E. Cowden

Although It has been said that Special Olympics competition contributes significantly to the physical fitness and self-concept of mentally retarded participants, no experimental research has been reported on the Special Olympics program. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in self-concept and cardiovascular endurance of mentally retarded youths after participating in a Special Olympics swim training program. One group (N = 25) participated in a 10-week Special Olympics swim training program, while the control group (N = 25) adhered to their normal daily living activities. The 9-Minute Run/Walk test yielded the data for measuring cardiovascular endurance, and the Piers and Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale was selected to measure self-concept. Results of the analysis of variance for each test were significant. It was concluded from the findings of this study that participation of mentally retarded youth in a Special Olympics swim training program contributed to a significant increase in self-concept and cardiovascular endurance.

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Brigid Byrd, Tamara Hew-Butler and Jeffrey J. Martin

The purpose of the study was to assess changes in multidimensional physical self-concept (PSC) over time of novice obese female runners participating in a 10-week running intervention. Multidimensional Physical Self-Concept was assessed at pre- and postintervention times and 3 months postintervention. A repeated measures MANOVA was significant, F (2, 7) = 8.82, p < .05. Follow-up tests indicated that 4 of the 9 PSCs significantly changed from Time 1 to Time 2 (p < .05) in the expected directions for physical activity (t = -2.45; h2 = 1.0), body fat (t = Ò3.21; h2 = 0.78), endurance (t = -3.75; h2 = 0.90), and general physical (t = -2.36; h2 = 0.99) self-concepts and these positive changes were maintained 3 months later at Time 3. We found that a 10-week running program appeared to produce positive changes in physical self-concept. Importantly, these positive changes were sustained for 3 months past the end of the intervention. These findings suggest that women running programs may be a viable way to increase physical self-concept, and sustain such positive changes in months following.

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Herbert W. Marsh

Self-concepts (self-perceptions) of physical fitness and academic achievement were related to 14 field and laboratory indicators of physical fitness and to academic achievement for a large, national representative sample of Australian boys and girls aged 9 to 15 (N = 6,283). Correlations between self-concepts and the corresponding external criteria increased steadily with age in both the physical and academic domains. Consistent with predictions from frame-of-reference models, relations were stronger after controlling for gender and age, suggesting that self-concepts are formed relative to other students of a similar age and gender. Fitness self-concept was most strongly related to some individual measures (e.g., 1.6K run, 50M dash, push-ups, skin fold thickness, VO2max, long jump, and body girth scores) and some components of fitness (e.g., cardiovascular endurance, power, dynamic strength, and body composition) than others. Consistent with multidimensional perspectives of physical fitness, indicators from a variety of fitness domains contributed to fitness self-concepts.

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Eliahu Sadres, Alon Eliakim, Naama Constantini, Ronnie Lidor and Bareket Falk

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of 2 school years (21 months) of a twice-weekly resistance training program on stature, muscle strength, and self-concept among prepubertal boys. The experimental group (E, n = 27) aged 9.2 ± 0.3 yrs, participated in progressive resistance training, while the control group (C, n = 22) aged 9.4 ± 0.3 yrs, participated in standard physical education classes (as advised by the Ministry of Education). Training sessions included 1–4 sets of 3–6 exercises, with 5–30 repetitions/set. The load ranged between 30% and 70% 1RM. No differences were observed in the gain in body height between groups. Muscle strength increased significantly more in E (e.g., knee extensors: 0.51 ± 0.13 to 0.77 ± 0.16 kg/kg body mass), compared with C (0.34 ± 0.12 to 0.54 ± 0.11 kg/kg body mass). One minor injury was reported throughout the study. Initial scores of self-concept were high in both groups, with no training effect. The results demonstrate that among prepubertal boys, a twice-weekly low-to-moderate-intensity resistance training program over a period of 2 school years (21 months) can result in enhancement in muscle strength with no detrimental effect on growth.

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Herbert W. Marsh, Alexandre J.S. Morin and Philip D. Parker

Elite athletes and nonathletes (N = 1,268) attending the same selective sport high school (4 high school age cohorts, grades 7–10, mean ages varying from 10.9 to 14.1) completed the same physical self-concept instrument 4 times over a 2-year period (multiple waves). We introduce a latent cohort-sequence analysis that provides a stronger basis for assessing developmental stability/change than either cross-sectional (multicohort, single occasion) or longitudinal (single-cohort, multiple occasion) designs, allowing us to evaluate latent means across 10 waves spanning a 5-year period (grades 7–11), although each participant contributed data for only 4 waves, spanning 2 of the 5 years. Consistent with the frame-of-reference effects embodied in the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE), physical self-concepts at the start of high school were much higher for elite athletes than for nonathlete classmates, but the differences declined over time so that by the end of high school there were no differences in the 2 groups. Gender differences in favor of males had a negative linear and quadratic trajectory over time, but the consistently smaller gender differences for athletes than for nonathletes did not vary with time.

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Kent C. Kowalski, Peter R.E. Crocker, Nanette P. Kowalski, Karen E. Chad and M. Louise Humbert

This research examined the direction of causal flow between global and specific dimensions of self-concept. Although the multidimensionality of self-concept has been strongly supported in the literature, the hierarchical nature of self-concept has not been established. With the use of structural equation modeling, the hierarchical nature of self-concept was tested using the Physical Self-Perception Profile (PSPP) model both with and without global self-esteem included. Adolescent girls (N = 618) completed the PSPP and Harter’s global self-esteem scale during class time in Grade 9 and a year later in Grade 10. When horizontal effects were included in the self-concept models across age, there was little support for either top-down or bottom-up effects. This contrasted with the results found when the analysis was conducted within each time period separately. This research provides further evidence against the hierarchical model of self-concept and highlights the importance of examining the hierarchical nature of self-concept over time.

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Suzanne A. Nasco and William M. Webb

The link between a strong identification with the athletic self-concept and well-being, commitment, and effort in athletes has been established in numerous research projects. However, current measures of athletic identity do not specifically acknowledge the public and private aspects of the athlete role and their differential influence on behavior. The goal of the present project was to create a short, psychometrically sound scale that measured these dimensions. Our scale (Public-Private Athletic Identity Scale; PPAIS) was validated using over 1,000 nonathletes, recreational athletes, current collegiate athletes, and retired athletes. We used exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to establish the structure of the scale and examined validity by comparing and contrasting the PPAIS with other existing athletic identity measures. Regressions also were used to show that the PPAIS enhances prediction of behavioral measures over other identity scales.

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Ken Hodge and Linda Petlichkoff

This investigation compared cluster analysis with the mean-split procedure for examining goal-orientation profiles and examined whether the goal-profile groups revealed differences in athletes’ perceptions of their physical abilities. Rugby players (N = 257, mean age = 20.62 years, SD = 3.64) completed a questionnaire assessing goal orientation, perceived rugby ability and competence, and self-concept of physical ability. Unlike the mean-split procedure, in which scores are forced into high/high, high/low, low/high, or low/low groups, cluster analysis revealed groups that varied in low-, moderate-, and high-task and -ego goals. Moreover, no extreme group profiles (high-ego/high-task or low-ego/low-task) emerged when cluster analysis was used. Multivariate results from the cluster analysis revealed that Cluster 4 (low-ego/moderate-task) reported significantly lower levels of perceived rugby ability/competence than did Cluster 3 (high-ego/moderate-task), indicating that ego might be the determining orientation in adaptive or maladaptive goal profiles. The Cluster 3 goal-profile group (high-ego/moderate-task) scored highest on all 3 dependent measures related to perception of physical abilities.

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Cheryl Braselton Anderson, Louise C. Mâsse, Hong Zhang, Karen J. Coleman and Shine Chang


Little is known about differences in athletic self-concept that are related to ethnicity, gender, and overweight status, which may influence physical activity behavior.


Children (N = 936) and adolescents (N = 1071) completed the Athletic Identity Questionnaire, measuring athletic appearance, competence, importance of activity, and encouragement from parents, teachers, and friends. Multivariate ANOVA assessed group differences and interactions on the 6 subscales.


Interaction effects were found in children (Ethnic × Gender; Ethnic × BMI), and ethnic, gender, and BMI (body mass index) main effects in adolescents. In children, Hispanic girls had lower appearance and competence ratings. Within weight categories, normal-weight Hispanic children had lower appearance and importance ratings compared with whites, and obese black children had lower importance ratings than obese whites and Hispanics. In adolescents, there were lower appearance and competence ratings among Hispanics and obese students, lower importance ratings among girls and Hispanics, and less parental encouragement in Hispanics. No gender, ethnic, or BMI differences on encouragement from teachers were found in either children or adolescents.


More negative athletic self-perceptions and less parental encouragement were seen in minorities. Consideration of these factors will be important in interventions to promote physical activity.