IMPACT OF SELF CONCEPT, BODY DISSATIFACTION AND GENDER ON STUDENTS FEAR OF NEGATIVE EVALUATION


IMPACT OF SELF CONCEPT, BODY DISSATISFACTION AND GENDER ON STUDENTS FEAR OF NEGATIVE EVALUATION

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

 Watson  and  Friend  (1969) defined  fear  of negative  evaluation  as  apprehension  about

others’ evaluation, distress over their negative evaluation, and the expectation that others would

evaluate  oneself negatively. Carleton et  al,  (2006) defined fear  of  negative  evaluation  as  the

apprehension and distress arising from concern about being judged despairingly or hostilely by

others.

Basically people with a high degree of fear of negative evaluation (which can be measured with

Fear of Negative Evaluation scale developed by  Watson and friend) are overly concerned with

how  they  are  judged  or  perceived by  other  people.  They  tend  to  imagine  that  they  are  being

perceived in negative ways and they are often inhibited in their behaviour as a result.

 This  people  are  also  more  responsive  to  situational  factors,  conformity, pre-social

behavior e.t.c. It may also be seen in every social evaluating situation including testing, being on

a  date,  talking  to  one’s  superior,  being  interviewed  for  a  job,  or  giving  a  speech (Watson  and

friend,  1969).Fear  of  negative  evaluation  is  related  to  specific  personality  dimensions,  such  as

anxiousness,  submissiveness,  and social  avoidance. Several  cognitive  models,  as  well as

previous research, support the notion that social anxiety is derived in part, from fear of perceived

negative evaluation(Clark & Wells 1995; Rapee and Heimbeig, 1997). People with social anxiety

demonstrate  a  variety  of  behaviours  to  avoid  negative  evaluation (Well  et  al, 1995)  and  have

attentional biases for detecting social-evaluative threats (Asmundson & Stein, 1994; Heinrichs &

Hofmann, 2001; Vassilopoloulos, 2005); however this sensitivity to social threats is believed to

be  based on  implicit  and  automatic  response  determined by  stimulus  relevance  (Philippot  and

Pouilliez, 2005).Socially anxious people have lower level of confidence in their perceived social

skills  (it  has  also  been  associated  with  increased  shyness (Miller,  1995),  the  development  of

eating disorders (Gilbert and mayer, 2005), and lower self-esteem (kocovski and Endler, 2002).

 Tozzi,F.,Aggen,S.,Neal,B.,Anderson,C.,Mazzeo,S.,Neal,M,.(2004) made  a  connection

between fear of negative evaluation and perfectionism, suggesting that a fear of making mistake

is one of the core features of perfectionism. Concern over mistake can be viewed as a form of

negative  evaluation. Succinctly  put, mistakes  are  synonymous  with  failure  and  disapproval.

Social  anxiety  is,  in  part  response  to  perceived  negative  evaluation  by  others  whereas  Fear  of

Negative Evaluation   is related to dread of being evaluated despairingly when participating in a

social  situation.  Social  anxiety  is purely an emotional  reaction to  this  type  of  social  phobia.

When patients  with  social  phobia  evaluate their  relationship,  they  are  extremely  fearful  of

negative  evaluation  and  express  high  degree  of  FNE.  FNE  has  been  suggested  to  have  some

genetic  components  as  are  other  personality  characteristics  (trait  anxiousness,  submissiveness

and social avoidance) Segrin, (2001).

As  a  latent  construct,  fear  of  negative  evaluation  is  believed  to  promote  the  development  and

expression of more general fears, anxiety and psychopathologies (Reiss and McNally, 1985).

This  latent  fear  is  partially  heritable;  ((Stein,  Jang,  & Livesley, 2002).  Given  the  necessity for

positive, successful social  interaction,  particularly  for  persons  in  fear  of  therapy  (Alden  &

Taylor, 2004; Segrin, 2001). Increased understanding of effect of fear of negative evaluation and

its correlates is crucial.

      Self-concept is another important variable that we must talk about as it contributes a lot

in determining whether a person would develop the fear of being negatively evaluated by people.

The  self-concept  is  a  general  term  used  to  refer  to  how  someone  thinks  about  or  perceives

himself.The  self-concept  can  be  defined  as  an  organised  knowledge  structure  or  cognitive

schema  that  contains  all  known  information  about  the  self,  including  past  experiences,  current

knowledge,  feelings,  beliefs  and  self-evaluations (Markus,  1977).  While  the  self-concept  was

once conceptualised as a stable, generalised view of the self, it is now viewed as a dynamic and

multifaceted  structure,  which  influences  areas  as  diverse  as  self-regulation,  goal  setting,

information  processing, affect  regulation,  motivation,  social  perception,  situation  and  partner

choice,  interaction  strategies,  and  reactions  to  feedback  (Markus  &Wurf,  1987).  This  dynamic

conceptualisation allowed for the observation that an individual’s self-concept could alter based

on their currently accessible thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, which may be influenced by factors

such  as  their  current  motivational  state  or  social  surroundings (Markus  &Wurf,  1987).  Self-

concept  can  be  conceptualized  in  terms  of  both  content  and  structure,  that  is  how  the  person

views themselves and  how  this  self-relevant  information  is  organized.  Social cognitive

researchers have found out that people vary in the stability of their self-concept (Campbell et al,

1996), and propose that an unstable self-concept results in sensitivity and susceptibility to self-

relevant feedback (Campbell,1990). Psychologist, Carl Rogers (1951), was the first to establish

the notion of self-concept. According to Rogers, everyone strives to reach an ‘’ideal self’’ (the

closer one is to their ideal self, the happier one will be)

 Those  who  are  unable  to  attain  this  goal may exhibit the fear  of  being  negatively

evaluated  by  others  and  most  times  they  tend  to  avoid  socially  evaluative situations.  Rogers

claims that one factor in a person’s happiness is the “Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) from

others.  UPR often  occur  in  close  of  familial  relationship,  and  involves  a  consistent  level  of

attention  regardless  of  the  recipient  emotion. According  to  Rogers, psychologically  healthy

people  actively  move  away  from  roles  created  by  others  expectations  and  instead  look  within

themselves for validation. On the other hand neurotic people have self-concept that do not match

their own experiences. They are afraid to accept their own experiences as valid, so they distort

them, either to protect themselves or to win approval from others. One important theory related

to  self-concept  is  self-categorization theory (SCT),  which  states  that  self-concept  consist  of  at

least two levels, a personal identity and a social identity. In other words ones self-evaluation rely

on  both  self-perception  and  how  others  perceive  them.  If  one  perceives  oneself  as  being

incompetent, this  negative  self-evaluation  would  affect  the person’s behaviour or  disposition

probably  negatively in  the  same  hand,  positive  self-evaluation breeds confidence  in  social

situations.  

The temporary  self-appraisal  theory  supports  the  above notion; it  posits that  people  have  a

tendency to maintain a positive self-evaluation by distancing themselves from their negative self

and paying more attention to their positive one.

      Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and

feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both and are

influenced by individuals and environmental factors  

 According  to  National  Eating  Disorders  Collaboration  (2014), there are  four  aspects  of

body image; it includes:

(1) The perceptual body image which has to do with how one sees oneself. This is not always a

correct  representation  of  how  one actually  looks.  For  example,  a  person  may  perceive  his/her

self as overweight when they are actually underweight.

(2) The  affective  body  image  which  has to  do  with  the  way one feels  about  one’s body.  It

relates to the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction one feels about one’s shape, weight and

individual body parts.

(3) The  cognitive  body  image  entails  how  one  thinks  about  his  or  her  body.  This  can  lead  to

preoccupation  with  body  shape  and  weight.  For  example,  some  people  believe  they  will  feel

better about themselves if they are thinner or more muscular.

(4) Behavioural body image which entails the several behaviours one engages in as a result of

one’s body  image.  When  people  are  dissatisfied  with  the  way  they  look,  they  may  isolate

themselves because they feel bad about their appearance or employ destructive behaviours (e.g

excessive exercising, disordered eating) as a means to change their appearance.

      Positive  body  image  is  important  because  it  is  one  of  the  protection  factors  which  can

make  a  person  more  resilient  to  eating  disorders,  body  dimorphic  disorder,  excessive  exercise

and other unfavourable behaviours. Positive body image occurs when a person is able to accept,

appreciate and respect his or her body. Personal appearance is very important to everyone. It may

influence how one feels about oneself, how one interacts with others, how one pays attention to

one’s appearance on a daily basis, and what behaviours one practices in order to maintain one’s

image (Sloan, 1995).

Body dissatisfaction on the other hand, is a negative feeling about oneself, beauty, figure, colour,

weight, height etc,(Obi,  2006).Body dissatisfaction is an internal process but can be influenced

by several external factors. For example, family, friends, acquaintances, teachers and the media

all  have  an  impact  on  how  a  person  sees  and  feels  about  themselves  and  their  appearance.

Individuals in appearance oriented environments or those who receive negative feedback about

their appearance are at an increased risk of body dissatisfaction.

    One  of  the  most  common  external  contributors  to  body  dissatisfaction  is  the  media.

People of all ages are bombarded with images through TV, magazine, internet and advertising.  

These  images  often  promote  unrealistic,  unobtainable  and  highly  stylized  appearance  ideals

which  have  been  fabricated  by  stylists,  art  teams,  and  digital  manipulation  and  cannot  be

achieved  in  real  life  settings.  Those  who  feel they  don’t  measure  up  to  these  images  can

experience  intense  body  dissatisfaction  which  is  damaging  to  their  psychological  and  physical

wellbeing. Maynard (1998) noted that the core component of body dissatisfaction is appearance

based social comparisons. Rebecca Glauert and Gill Rhodes recently reported that all women are

biased to spontaneously direct their attention to the bodies of thin women (Glauert ,et al, 2010).

      Nevertheless,  this  attentional bias is  not  restricted  to  women  alone.  Men  are  equally

victims of appearance-based social comparison. The more dissatisfied a man is with his body, the

more he attends to the bodies of thin men. Women don’t appear to show this bias when they look

at  the  bodies  of men  and  men  don’t  seem  to  show  it  when  they  look at  women  (Joseph  et  al

2011). They reported that females showed a greater dissatisfaction with their current figures in

relation  to  their  perception  of  men’s  ideals  preference. Cohn  and  Adler  (1992)  found  similar

results and discussed the tremendous pressure placed on women to seek this idealistic shape.

      Gender which is one of the focuses of the study was defined by Santrock (2006) as the

social  and  psychological  dimension  of  being  male  or  female.  He  opined  that  two  aspects  of

gender exist which are;

(1) Gender role, which refers to a set of expectation that describes how female and males should

think, act and feel.

(2)  Gender  identify,  which  refers  to  the  sense  of  being  female  or  male,  which  most  children

acquire early in life.

Santrock, (2006) proposing gender role as an aspect of gender, supports the sociological point of

view  that  gender  role  adopted  during  childhood  normally  continue  into  adulthood.  Franzoi                                                                                           7

(2002)  posited  that  gender  identity  is  the  knowledge  that  one  is  a  male  or  a  female  and  the

internalization of this fact into one’s self-concept.

 The  different  gender  roles  can  lead  to  explaining  whether  males  are  more  concerned  with

their  social-appearance  or  the  opposite  females  engaging  more  in  eating  disorders, excessive

exercising in other to attain the “ideal body” in other to avert being negatively evaluated.

As  earlier  stated,  gender  role  and  gender  identity are  the  major  aspects  of  gender  that  exist,

according to Santrock (2006) and Franzoi (2000) will enlighten one on who between the female

and  male  will  play  more  role  in  engaging  more  on  appearance  oriented  tasks  in  order  to  be

socially accepted   

Statement of the Problem

 Many  young people find it difficult to express themselves. This is largely because they are

apprehensive of how others will judge them. Consequently, they are hindered in social settings.

This  research  work focuses  on  secondary  school  students  to  ascertain  how  self  concept,  body

dissatisfaction, and gender impacts on students’ fear of negative evaluation. For example, does

the  high  level  of  shyness,  timidity,  social  avoidance  behaviour  among some secondary  school

students have  something  to  do  with  their  self  perception,  body  image  and  their  gender? The

problems that this study set on were:

(1) Will self-concept significantly play a role in fear of negative evaluation?

(2)  Will body dissatisfaction significantly play a role in fear of negative evaluation?

(3) Will gender significantly play a role in fear of negative evaluation?

Purpose of Study

The present study is aimed at examining the roles of                                                                                           8

(1) Self-concept in Fear of Negative Evaluation.  

(2) Body dissatisfaction in Fear of Negative Evaluation.

(3) Gender in Fear of Negative Evaluation.

Operational Definition of Terms

(1) Fear  of  Negative  Evaluation: This  refers  to the apprehension  about  others’  evaluation,

distress  over  their  negative  evaluation,  and  the  expectation  that  others  would  evaluate  oneself

negatively as measured by Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (Watson & Friend, 1969)

(2) Self-Concept: This refers to the idea or mental image one has of oneself and one’s strengths,

weaknesses, status, as measured by Goni Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire  (Goni,2009).   

(3) Body Dissatisfaction: This refers to the evaluation of one’s own body subjectively through

linked  feelings  and  attitudes  as  measured  by  Body  Dissatisfaction  Questionnaire  (Amazue &

Obi, 2006).

(4) Gender:  This  refers  to the  social  and  psychological  dimension  of being  male  or  female

(Santrock, 2006).

.

IMPACT OF SELF CONCEPT, BODY DISSATIFACTION AND GENDER ON STUDENTS FEAR OF NEGATIVE EVALUATION



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