Exercising impressive impressions: the exercise stereotype in male targets
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The main purpose of this study was to investigate the exercise stereotype and the non-exerciser stereotype on male targets, and the moderating effects of impression motivation in 184 female and 73 male Swedish undergraduate students. The participants read a description of one of the following male targets: a typical exerciser, an active living target, an excessive exerciser, a non-exerciser, or a control target, and then rated these targets on 12 personality (e.g. lazy-hard worker, dependent-independent) and eight physical (e.g. scrawny-muscular, sick-healthy) dimensions. They also completed the Impression Motivation scale of the Self-Presentation in Exercise Questionnaire, measuring motivation to self-present as an exerciser. MANCOVAs demonstrated a significant main effect for both personality and physical attributes (P<0.05). Overall, the typical exerciser, the active living target, and the excessive targets received more positive ratings than, in particular the non-exerciser target but also the control target. The non-exerciser target was rated less favorably compared with the control target. The impression motivation of the participants moderated the exercise status/rating relationship for the physical but not the personality attributes. The results of the study are discussed in the context of gender and cultural aspects of the exercise stereotype phenomenon.