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SELF-THREAT AND SOCIAL NORMS OF EXERCISING: EFFECT ON SELF- EVALUATIVE EMOTIONS AMONG SELECTED JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH

SCHOOL STUDENTS

Anabelle Ramos Institute of Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies Far Eastern University Sampaloc, Manila

Adolescence is a developmental stage wherein an individual becomes increasingly aware of social norms. One of these is the need to be physically fit which pertains to body image/weight. Despite this, there is an increase in those suffering from obesity and those struggling with eating disorders. Using a between-subjects factorial design, the study aimed to know if strength of social norms coupled with type of social norms, both of exercising, have effects on adolescents experience of private (self assurance) and public self-evaluative emotions (shyness). Participants were rank-order matched by self-esteem scores. After reading an article about negative effects of inadequate exercise and fabricated social norm awareness, there was no effect of social norm manipulation to adolescent self-evaluative emotions. Strictness of a social norm showed a decrease in self-assurance, whether the type of norm is injunctive or descriptive. Also, the experience of shyness depends on the content of the social norms, but does not differ much. Selfesteem was both weakly related to self-assurance (positive) and shyness (negative).

INTRODUCTION Piagets Cognitive Development Theory stated that, an adolescent experiences an imaginary audience, personal fable and increased curiosity about how other people think about them (Oswalt, 2013). Together with these, he or she becomes increasingly aware of social norms. One of these is the need to be physically fit which pertains to body image/weight. Despite this, adolescence continues to have unhealthy behavior issues. During this stage of development, there is an increase in those suffering from obesity and those struggling with eating disorders (www.cedu.niu.edu).

One of the major ways in which humans differ from nonhuman animals is that they have a complex sense of self (Tracy & Robins, 2007). This sense of self is influenced by experience of emotions. The relationship of self and emotions develops into selfrepresentations, the me self or the mental representations that constitute ones identity (Tracy & Robins, 2007). However, the self and emotions association becomes more complex when dealing with the social norms. Cialdini, Reno and Kallgren define social norms as rules of how one ought to behave in a specific context (as cited in Grob et al., 2011). These guide our interactions with others and how one should act. This is when self-awareness or the ability to reflect develops more, the I. Self-representations and self-awareness are components of self-conscious emotions like fear, anger and happiness and sadness. Eventually, these would generate self-evaluative emotions. These are pride, shame, guilt and embarrassment. In turn, self-representations may improve. Many researchers have stated that the improvement will allow them to maintain their place in the social group and avoid social rejection. (as cited in Tracy & Robins, 2007). In this case, increased self-awareness would promote positive change and result in positive self-evaluation. Moreover, Higgins Self-Discrepancy Theory stated that, an experience of selfdiscrepancy regarding an unfavorable event makes us look into ourselves and eventually, have emotional reactions (Van Lange, Kruglanski & Higgins, 2012). In 2011, Grob, Dijkstra and de Groot, through a series of experiments proved that social norms coupled with knowledge of adverse effects of not having enough exercise influence the experience of self-evaluative emotions. Private self-evaluative emotions like guilt were more evident than public self-evaluative emotions like shame when social norms were lenient. Moreover, those who experienced more private self-evaluative emotions were more likely to decrease the frequency of their unhealthy behavior. Another private self-evaluative emotion is pride which is also called self-assurance. On the other hand, shyness is a component of embarrassment, a public self-evaluative emotion. The former refers to emotion felt by oneself and the latter pertains to emotion felt in relation to others.

Part of the complex self of humans is self-esteem. One of the definitions of self-esteem is the way people characteristically feel about themselves. This definition refers to global self-esteem which is enduring, both across time and situations (Brown, Dutton & Cook, 2001). As such, this can mediate the effect of social norms on self-evaluative emotions. In fact, Leary, Tambor, Terdal and Down argued that self-esteem evolved as a social barometer, informing individuals of the extent to which they are accepted (as cited in Tracy & Robins, 2007). Moreover, Brown et al.s (2001) study found out that high self-esteem people use their self-evaluations to promote and restore high feelings of self-worth. They could attribute their failure on themselves, like making a bad plan, without underestimating their capabilities. Wood, Giordano-Beech and Ducharme said that, they may also do selective social comparison processes, wherein the comparison will only make them feel better (as cited in Brown, et al., 2001). Additionally, it was proposed by Tangney and Dearing that high self-esteem makes a person experience pride (as cited in Tracy and Robins, 2007). This study aimed to know if strength of social norms coupled with type of social norms, both concern exercising, have effects on adolescents experience of private (self assurance) and public self-evaluative emotions (shyness). Also, to know the relationship self-esteem to self-assurance and shyness. METHOD Participants Eighteen junior and senior high school students of St. Nicholas School of Marikina were invited to take part in the study. On the first day (preliminary stage), all of them were given informed assent forms. Through the participants, parents were given parental permission forms in a sealed short brown envelope. Both forms have the same content, but the latter has the researchers contact detail and more explanation of the study. They were asked to accomplish a Personal Data Sheet. The inclusion criteria were weighs at least 40 kilograms and engages in exercise 3 times a week, at most. Exercise means at least 1 hour until they are covered in sweat and are out of breath ( Grob,

Dijkstra & de Groot, 2011). This left 13 eligible participants. One student dropped-out on the day of the experiment, but before it started. They were 7 males and 5 females, aged 14 to 17, 9 senior and 3 junior students, weigh 40 to 70 kilograms. Participants exercise none to three times a week and only one viewed that frequency of exercise should be decided by individuals themselves. The last two data were used to make the fabricated social norms believable. Design This study used a between-subjects factorial design. A factorial design is any design with more than one independent variable and has at least two levels (Jackson, 2012). Different subjects were used for the treatment groups. The present study had strength of social norms (lenient versus strict) and type of social norms (descriptive versus injunctive) as independent variables; yielding four treatment groups: lenient injunctive, strict injunctive, lenient descriptive and strict descriptive. The manipulation of independent variables is hoped to bring a majority of variance (Breakwell, Smith & Wright, 2012). Materials and Procedure Research Locale. The experiment was conducted at St. Nicholas School of Marikina. It is located at 3 Dama de Noche St., Twinville Subd., Concepcion I, Marikina City. The schools faculty room and a classroom were utilized. Matching. A pre-experiment questionnaire, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/RSES (Rosenberg, 1965), will be completed by the participants. It is a standardized test that measures adolescent global self-worth by measuring both positive and negative feelings about the self (Fetzer Institute, n.d.). RSES has a total of 10 items that can be accomplished in 10 minutes. It will be answered using a four-point Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Five of the items are reverse scored. Higher total score indicates higher self-esteem. The scores were rank-order matched for random assignment to four treatment groups. Internal consistency of RSES is 0.77. Silber and Tippett, and Shorkey and Whiteman noted that test-retest reliability for the 2-

week interval was calculated at 0.85, the 7-month interval was calculated at 0.63 (as cited in Statistics Solutions, Inc., 2012). Self-Threat. Participants read a scientific article about exercise entitled Negative Effects of Inadequate Exercise in Adolescents. The article included its health risks and touched the subject of obesity; also, the recommended amount of exercise per week for adolescents. Social Norm Conditions. These were presented to the participants in a short bond paper, landscape. The following are the social norm conditions and their operational definitions:
Lenient Injunctive 2 out of 3 of the group members think that everyone should decide for themselves how often they want to take exercise. Strict Injunctive 2 out of 3 of the group members think that everyone should take sufficient amount of exercise in a week in order to stay healthy. Lenient Descriptive 2 out of 3 of the group members had the same frequency of exercise in a week as you had. Strict Descriptive 2 out of 3 of the group members had a frequency of exercise in a week as recommended in the article.

On the strength of social norm, lenient stresses freedom while strict pertains to a firm standard of behavior On the other hand, injunctive type of social norm tells others opinion on how healthy one should be, while descriptive refers to what most of the group members do. Self-Evaluative Emotions Measure. A post-experimental questionnaire will be

accomplished. The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule- Extended Form/ PANAS-X (Watson & Clark, 19994) is a standardized test that measures wide range of emotions form different points in time. PANAS- X has 60 items and can be answered in 10 minutes or less. Emotions will be rated based on a five-point scale ranging from very slightly or not at all to extremely. The items are grouped into 4 scales with their corresponding subscales. PANAS- X is scored by summing the positive affect scale and

the negative affect scales separately and then calculating the mean and standard deviation. Internal consistency is high for both the positive and negative scales ( = .83 to .90). The present study will only use the self-assurance subscale (positive emotion scale) and shyness subscale (other affective states scale). Higher scores on the subscales indicate stronger experience of that emotion. Procedure. The experiment was conducted in 3 days. On the first day (preliminary stage), participants filled-out the Informed Assent form, the Personal Data Sheet, and accomplished the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale in the faculty room. After that, they were asked to give to their parents the Parental Permission Form. Self-esteem scores were rank-order matched for random assignment to four treatment groups. On the second day (experimental proper), half of the selected participants were led to a classroom. Their parental permission forms were gathered and they were assigned to groups. They were asked to sit in chairs that were facing the left and right walls of the room, 3 each. Participants were given an article to read entitled Negative Effects of Inadequate Exercise in Adolescents. After, participants were presented a short bond paper, in landscape, containing the fabricated social norm of exercise their treatment group holds. After telling them that there would be an activity concerning the article and their health behaviors, they were asked to answer Positive and Negative Affect Schedule- Extended Form. Only the self-assurance and shyness subscales were computed. The researcher thanked them for participating. The same procedure was done with the other half of the participants on the third day. Participants received copies of their signed informed assent form and parental permission form, to be signed again by their parent/s. They were debriefed right after they joined the experiment.

Control of Extraneous Variables Dropping-out and Absence of Participants. On the second day (experimental proper), a student dropped-out. Since groups were already made and the experiment has not yet started, the researcher substituted the 13th participant, whose self-esteem score was discarded in matching but was equally qualified to take part in the experiment. Some participants were absent, so the researcher decided to conduct the experiment with 2 groups per day. Conducting Experimental Proper for 2 Days. The experiment was conducted in 2 consecutive days, with almost the same time and in the same room. Venue of Experiment. The faculty room had few chairs. The researcher instructed the participants to sit comfortably anywhere in the room. Moreover, the left and right walls of the classroom had posters, but the other has fewer. On the second day (experimental proper), the lenient injunctive and strict injunctive groups were asked to sit on the chairs facing the left and right walls of the room, respectively. On the third day, the strict descriptive and lenient descriptive groups were asked to sit in the same manner. Exposure to the wall was balanced; with the lenient, strict, injunctive and descriptive social norms groups face both walls. Data Analysis To examine the effect of strength of social norms coupled with type of social norms on self-evaluative emotions, a 2-way univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used. In addition, a bivariate correlation was utilized to know the relationship of self-esteem with self-assurance and shyness.

RESULTS A 2-way ANOVA was used to obtain data for Tables 1 and 2. Mean, standard deviation of the dependent variables are summarized in Table 1. Table 1 Means and standard deviations of junior and senior high school students selfassurance and shyness when grouped according to treatment conditions
Dependent Variable Self-Assurance Lenient Injunctive Strict Injunctive Lenient Descriptive Strict Descriptive Shyness Lenient Injunctive Strict Injunctive Lenient Descriptive Strict Descriptive Mean 19.67 16.33 18.67 16.33 10.33 8.33 8.00 9.33 Standard Deviation 1.53 6.66 1.53 5.51 1.16 1.53 1.00 1.53

Table 1 shows that the self-assurance of junior and senior high school students was highest when the social norm is lenient injunctive and lowest when the social norm is strict injunctive or strict descriptive. On the other hand, participants shyness was highest when the social norm is lenient injunctive and lowest in lenient descriptive. F-ratio, p-value and of independent variables are summarized in Table 2. Table 2 F-ratio, p-value and of junior and senior high school students self-assurance and shyness when grouped according to independent variables
Dependent Variable Self-Assurance Strength of Social Norm Type of Social Norm Interaction Shyness Strength of Social Norm Type of Social Norm Interaction F-ratio 1.21 0.04 0.04 0.19 0.76 4.76 p-value 0.30 0.85 0.85 0.67 0.41 0.06 0.13 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.09 0.37

Table 2 illustrates that there was no significant effect of strength of social norms or type of social norms on participants self-assurance or shyness. Also, there is no significant interaction of the independent variables found (See Figure 1 and Figure 2). The effect of time or conducting the experimental proper for 2 days was not calculated since there was no significant effect or interaction found.

Figure 1 Level of self-assurance according to strength of social norm and type of social norm

Figure 2 Level of shyness according to strength of social norms and type of social norm

Bivariate correlation revealed a low but positive relationship between self-esteem and self-assurance (r = 0.09). Conversely, self-esteem and shyness obtained a low but negative correlation coefficient (r = -0.02). DISCUSSION This study aimed to know if strength of social norms coupled with type of social norms, both concern exercising, have effects on adolescents experience of private (self assurance) and public self-evaluative emotions (shyness). Also, to know the relationship self-esteem to self-assurance and shyness. Participants were rank-order matched by their self-esteem total scores for random assignment to social norm conditions: lenient

injunctive, strict injunctive, lenient descriptive and strict descriptive. They read a scientific article about negative effects of inadequate exercise and a fabricated social norm. A 2-way ANOVA yielded no significant effects. However, the study found that strictness of a social norm showed a decrease in self-assurance, whether the type of norm is injunctive or descriptive. Also, the experience of shyness depends on the content of the social norms, but does not differ much. Additionally, self-esteem was both weakly related to self-assurance (positive) and shyness (negative). Self-assurance, a private self-evaluative emotion, is lowered when a social norm increases its firmness. On the other hand, shyness decreased when what they do is the same with other group member, and when they place importance on others opinion. The result of the study coincided with Grob, Dijkstra and de Groots (2011) study, that private self-evaluative emotions like guilt were more evident than public self-evaluative emotions like shame when social norms were lenient. In relation, many researchers have stated that the improvement, based on experience or opinion of others, will allow them to maintain their place in the social group and avoid social rejection. (as cited in Tracy & Robins, 2007). On the other hand, the present study also revealed that a lenient injunctive social norm increased shyness. It is when the group believes that they should decide for themselves their frequency of exercise per week. The relationship between self-esteem to self-assurance and shyness was expected. But, self-esteem scores of the high school students were not that high, which could have affected their score in self-assurance. In relation, it was proposed by Tangney and Dearing that high self-esteem makes a person experience pride (as cited in Tracy and Robins, 2007). CONCLUSION Social norms affect the experience of emotions, but self-esteem also plays a part in their effectivity.

RECOMMENDATION This study has limitations. It is recommended that future researchers explore the effects of social norms on other self-evaluative emotions. Since the sample size is too small, the researcher suggests that study be conducted with more participants. This can increase the power of the effect of social norms. Moreover, personality factors other than self-esteem may influence the effectivity of social norms. REFERENCES Breakwell, G. M., Smith, J. A. & Wright, D. B. (Eds.). (2012). Research methods in psychology (4th ed.). Singapore: Sage Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd. Brown, J. D., Dutton, K. A., & Cook, K. E. (2001). From the top down: Self-esteem and self-evaluation. Cognition and Emotion, 15, 615-631. doi: 10.1080/02699930143 000004 Electronic Yellow Pages (2013). St. Nicholas School. Retrieved from http://www.yellowpages.ph/businesses/st-nicholas-school/reviews Fetzer Institute. (n.d.). Self Report Measures for Love and Compassion Research: SelfEsteem. Author. Grob, J. D. M., Dijkstra, A. & de Groot, C. (2011). How social context moderates the self-evaluative emotions experienced due to health risk behaviour. Psychology and Health 26, 1344-1360. doi: 10.1080/08870466.2010.525638 Jackson, S. L. (2012). Research methods and statistics: A critical thinking approach (4th ed.). United States: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Oswalt, A. (2013). Jean piaget's theory of cognitive development (Zupanick, Ed.). Seven Counties Services, Inc.

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