Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD.

Second Advisor

Mary Peterson, PhD., ABOO

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Hamilton, PhD.


The purpose of this study was to look at the relationship between sexual objectification, body image, eating disorder symptomatology, activity monitoring, and compulsive exercise. Objectification Theory provides a framework for understanding a woman’s experience of the culturally established ideal body, which in Western cultures has become increasingly thin. As women internalize the thin ideal, their experience of self-worth and body image can be impacted and can lead to efforts to control their appearance including diet and exercise. While exercise has been consistently shown to have health benefits, little has been said about unhealthy levels of exercise. Compulsive exercise in particular is concerning due to its correlation with eating disorders. Additionally, developments in self-monitoring tools, such as accelerometers, provide immediate feedback about exercise, which might lead to increases in compulsive exercise. Participants in this study were college women who were enrolled in a fitness class. They responded to measures of sexual objectification, body image, eating disorder symptoms, and compulsive exercise at the beginning and end of a required semester-long fitness class that involved self-monitoring and the use of fitness trackers. Results revealed that, of the variables measured, body shame was the only significant predictor of compulsive exercise. Analysis also indicated a relationship between sexual objectification and body image. The addition of body shame in the construct of compulsive exercise is significant because of the relationship between eating disorders and compulsive exercise. Sexual objectification can increase body shame, which in turn is a risk factor for the development of compulsive exercise, and compulsive exercise is a known precursor to the development of eating disorders. This information provides additional insight into the complex mechanism of compulsive exercise and can inform professionals working with young woman who could be at risk for developing more severe eating pathology. Key Words: Sexual Objectification, Accelerometer, Compulsive Exercise, Body Image, Eating Disorder

Included in

Psychology Commons