Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS)


Author of Tool: 

Leary, M. R.

Key references: 

Hart, E. A., Leary, M. R., & Rejeski, W. J. (1989). The measurement of social physique anxiety. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 11, 94-104.

Primary use / Purpose: 

This scale measures social anxiety related to physique. By physique or figure we mean your body’s form and structure; specifically, body fat, muscular tone, and general body proportions.


The pressures placed on young men and women to portray an ideal physique are predominant social forces in today’s society. A failure to live up to these standards, whether real or imagined, may induce thoughts and feelings that others are negatively evaluating one’s physique. In this case, social physique anxiety may be experienced (SPA; Hart, Leary, & Rejeski, 1989). Subsequently, individuals who are concerned that others are or may be judging their physiques negatively (i.e., SPA) may feel pressured by society’s ideals to engage in physical activity to enhance their physique and decrease the chances of negative evaluations.The Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS) a 12-item self-report scale developed to assess the degree to which people become anxious when others observe or evaluate their physiques.


The Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS) demonstrated both high internal and test-retest reliability. It also correlated appropriately with concerns regarding others’ evaluations and with feelings about one’s body. Validity data showed that women who scored high on the SPAS were heavier and had a higher percentage of body fat than those who scored lower. In addition, high scorers reported significantly greater anxiety during a real evaluation of their physiques, further supporting the validity of the scale. 



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