I like to see myself on screen: Effects of seeing oneself on screen and body image dissatisfaction on exercise experiences in playing an exercise video game

Hayeon Song, Wei Peng and Kwan Lee

Extended Abstract

With the recent communication technology development, it is now common to see the image of self not only in the mirror but also in many communication technological applications. For example, the image of self is available in the still picture, live camera, instant messenger, video conference, etc. Video games also start to use the image of self. In some recent applications of video games, self image has been used to represent self in virtual reality.

Despite the popular use of the image of self with new communication technology applications, research concerning the self images through new media is still not sufficient. This paper attempts to test the effect of seeing the image of self in an exercise video game. The context of exercise was chose for the research, because previous literatures in exercise psychology have found significant effects of seeing oneself on the mirror on exercise motivation and exercise experiences.

This study investigates the effects of seeing oneself on screen and body image dissatisfaction on exercise experiences while playing an exercising video game, including exercise motivation, enjoyment, presence, mood change, self awareness, and buying intention).

This study is a 2 (seeing the image of self on screen: image of self vs. no image of self) x 2(body image dissatisfaction: low vs. high) between-subjects experiment.

As a first step, a screening test was conducted to select those who had low and high body image dissatisfaction. And then, only those who were qualified were invited to a lab. The participants were randomly assigned to each condition, where the image of self on screen was provided and not provided. The participants played the PlayStation EyeToy exercise game, in which they engaged in a moderate-intensity exercise for 20 minutes.

The result showed that those who reported not being satisfied with their body image liked less both their image of self appeared on screen and their experience of seeing the image of self, comparing to those who reported low body image dissatisfaction. However, whether participants like or dislike the image of self seemed not to elicit significant effects on exercise motivation or enjoyment of the game. The discussion of the findings is provided.