An examination of the effects of health promotion and appearance-based exercise advertising on exercise attitudes, self-presentation, self-efficacy, and decisional balance




Berry, Tanya Rose

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Two possible motivators for physical activity are health and appearance. The public sector focuses on health as the primary motivator when creating physical activity promotion campaigns, while the fitness industry uses appearance as its main motivator. Despite the call by some theorists that social marketers should include both health and appearance as motivators in physical activity campaigns, whether these factors can be successful independently, and how they may interact, remains to be determined. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to examine whether televised health promotion exercise advertising had different effects on viewers than appearance-based exercise advertising. Four separate experiments examined this question. Experiment one used undergraduate participants (N = 103) to examine whether the two types of exercise advertising would have different effects on three dependent variables: exercise attitudes, social physique anxiety and self-presentation in an exercise setting. Experiment two examined the same questions in a group of participants aged 44 to 67 years (N = 29). Experiment three used an undergraduate sample (N = 89) to test the effects of exercise advertising on the three dependent variables, but also included sociocultural attitudes towards appearance as an independent variable. Experiment four used an undergraduate sample (N = 97) to test whether the two forms of exercise advertising had different effects on stages of behaviour change, self-efficacy for exercise, and decisional balance (from the transtheoretical model). All four experiments used a pre-test/post-test experimental design. Participants filled out pre-test questionnaires one week prior to viewing a twenty-minute video on Japanese culture that made no reference to exercise or sport. Embedded into the video were advertising breaks that contained six neutral advertisements and three target advertisements. The target advertisements in one video were promoting physical activity for health. The second video contained exercise for appearance advertisements, and the third was a control video with three more neutral advertisements. After viewing a video, participants completed the post-test questionnaires. The main findings across the series of experiments were that health-based exercise advertising positively influenced exercisers and older participants; that appearance-based exercise advertising had negative effects on men only; and that there is a distinction between self-presentational concerns in a non-competitive exercise environment compared to a competitive exercise environment.



Advertising, Health products, Psychological aspects, Exercise, Health aspects