A structural equation model of the relationship between body perception and self-esteem: Global physical self-concept as the mediator

Patrick W C LAU*, Mike W.L. Cheung, Lynda B. Ransdell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The purposes of this study were to investigate: (1) whether three subscale scores (i.e., body fat, appearance, and strength) and the global physical self-concept and global self-concept scores of the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) are applicable to Chinese children; (2) whether there is a gender difference in these relationships; and (3) whether global physical self-concept acts as a mediator of global self-concept. Design: A cross sectional study of Chinese children (45% girls, 55% boys) from low to middle class families were randomly recruited. Participants attended grades 3 through 6 at a standard urban primary school in Hong Kong. Children in this study represented a socioeconomically matched population from Hong Kong. Method: 320 Chinese children aged 7-12 years were recruited. The PSDQ was used to assess two global dimensions (global physical self-concept and global self-concept) and three specific dimensions (body fat, appearance, and strength) of self-worth. The children's version of the silhouette matching task (SMT) was adopted from Marsh and Roche [Marsh, H. W., & Roche, L. (1996). Predicting self-esteem from perceptions of actual and ideal ratings of body fatness: Is there only one ideal "supermodel"? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 67, 13-26] to measure children's body perception. Results: The factor structure of the modified PSDQ model was applicable in young Chinese children, regardless of their gender. Results of structural equation model (SEM) indicated that the model was acceptable. The structural paths of the model and the mediating effect of global physical self-concept on global self-concept were discussed. Conclusion: The present study indicates that the physical self is an increasingly important correlate of self-esteem. It is particularly important relative to perceived self-presentation and social acceptance. Therefore, it is important to consider the impact of the physical self-concept on global self-concept from both cultural and worldwide perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-509
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Applied Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Appearance
  • Body image
  • Chinese children
  • Self-concept


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