First Advisor

Dr. Megan Babkes Stellino

First Committee Member

Dr. Dannon Cox

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type


Date Created



Drastic declines in recess physical activity (PA) have been observed within recent years (Center for Disease Control (CDC), 2017). Due to recess’ discretionary nature, psychosocial variables associated with PA are predictors of students’ PA levels. Recess is also a time of heightened bullying occurrences (Vaillancourt et al., 2010). Appearance-based bullying is the most common type of victimization that occurs in schools, transpiring more often in children with larger body max indexes (BMI), and possibly altering students’ physical self-perceptions. Physical self-perceptions have been shown to impact PA motivation, however, it is still unknown the extent to which appearance-based bullying, body size, and physical self-perceptions may impact attraction to PA in the recess environment. The overarching purpose of this research was to examine the impact of Playworks programming implementation in Aurora public school district partner schools. More specifically, the other purpose of this study was to investigate group differences in older elementary school students based on body size, grade level, gender, and race/ethnicity relative to victimization based on appearance at recess, students’ attraction to physical activity, and students’ self-perceptions of physical appearance as well as examine the relationship between victimization based on physical appearance at recess, perceptions of physical appearance, and attraction to physical activity. Four research questions were posed to guide this study.

Q1 Are there group differences according to gender, race/ethnicity, grade level, and body size in perceived physical appearance at recess, victimization status relative to appearance at recess, and student’s attraction to physical activity (CAPA) at recess?

Q2 What is the relationship between students’ victimization relative to appearance and their attraction to physical activity during recess?

Q3 What is the relationship between students’ self-perceptions of their physical appearance and their attraction to physical activity during recess?

Q4 Does victimization relative to appearance at recess impact the relationship between perceived physical appearance and students’ attraction to PA levels at recess?

Students in 3rd - 5th grades (n=795, 49.3% male, 56.1% regular body size, 46.4% 4th grade, 27.3% Hispanic) completed surveys that included one self-reported body size question, a perceived victimization scale, the physical appearance subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children, and the Children’s Attraction to Physical Activity (CAPA) scale. Group difference analyses revealed “just the right” body sized children had a significantly higher perception of their physical appearance (p < .001) and attraction to PA (p < .001) compared to smaller and bigger body sized children. Correlation analyses showed that student’s perceived physical appearance had a significant direct correlation (p < .001, ρ = 0.423) with student’s attraction to PA. Findings provide evidence that negative physical appearance perceptions may pose a risk and diminish a student’s attraction to PA, and therefore, physical appearance perceptions may be a meaningful focus of recess interventions.

Abstract Format



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Developmental Psychology | Health and Physical Education | Social Psychology | Sports Sciences


Self-Perceptions of Appearance, Children's Attraction to Physical Activity, Perceived Body Size, Recess, Elementary aged students, Playworks, Diversity




127 pages

Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.