Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

Keywords

Body image, Embodiment, Measurement, Physical activity, Disordered eating

Abstract

Embodiment is defined as a state in which one experiences one's body as an essential and loved aspect of one's lived experiences, a potential protective factor against body image and eating disturbance. While qualitative studies have been conducted to examine the nature of embodiment, a quantitative measure has not yet been created. The Physical Body Experiences Questionnaire was rationally derived as a measure of embodiment based on focus groups, literature reviews, and expert review. These qualitative methods resulted in a 32-item scale measured on a 7-point Likert scale. Based on the results of a pilot study conducted with 670 female undergraduate participants, revisions were made to the PBE to improve item wording and reduce the number of negative items in the scale.

The aims of the study were to assess the psychometric properties of the revised PBE, test the convergent and predictive validity of the questionnaire, and confirm the factor structure of the questionnaire. The PBE - along with several other measures of body image, self-objectification, and disordered eating - was administered to two independent samples randomly selected from a pool of 638 female undergraduate students at least 18 years of age. In Sample 1, exploratory factor analyses indicated that 4 factors should be retained. The final PBE consisted of 18 items and 4 subscales (Mind/Body Connection, Body Acceptance, Physical Competence, and Physical Limits). The total scale and subscales demonstrated excellent internal consistency. Significant correlations were found between the PBE subscales and measures of body awareness, body responsiveness, body satisfaction, positive body image, self-objectification, disordered eating, and self-esteem.

Regression analyses indicated the subscales differentially predicted disordered eating and positive body image. Results indicated the utility of the Mind/Body Connection and Body Acceptance subscales in predicting body awareness, body responsiveness, positive body image, body satisfaction, self-objectification, disordered eating, and positive body image. In Sample 2, confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the factor structure of the PBE. These findings indicate that the PBE has important utility for future investigations of positive body image, physical activity, and disordered eating. Limitations of the study are discussed.

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