PHYSICAL SELF-CONCEPT IN THE ELDERLY
 
Alfermann, D., and Jeannine, S.,University of Leipzig, Germany
 
The model of a hierarchical and multidimensional self-concept has reached growing acceptance. It is thought to represent the global perceptions of a person's self on the apex and actual behavior on the base level. Most of the research so far focused on children and young adults. But what about the elderly? Based on the assumption that physical and mental activities contribute to competence feelings and are necessary for successful ageing, elder people who are physically active should have a more positive physical self-concept. So the purpose of the present study was a) to investigate the physical self-concept of elder people engaged in different activities, b) to test the structure of the physical self-concept. Relying on Marsh and Redmayne (1994) paper-pencil scales measuring different facets of physical self-concept were developped for German samples of old age. All items are to be rated on 6-point Likert-type scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Cronbach alpha coefficients for all scales range from .62 to .86. Participants were 215 volunteers (M = 63 years, SD = 5.67; 169 women and 46 men) who took part in several leisure activities: fitness course (90 min., once a week), language course (90 min., once a week) or both (180 min., once a week). Results show that the English activity group differs significantly from the other two groups in the way that they estimate their physical abilities lower than the others. No significant sex differences could be found. Structural equation analysis confirms the hierarchical physical self-concept structure as expected.