The impact of critical comments from teammates on athletes’ eating and exercise psychopathology
Critical comments from parents or coaches about weight or shape have been associated with athletes’ body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. However, research is yet to explore how critical comments from an athlete’s teammates may impact on eating and exercise psychopathology. This study aimed to (1) explore whether athletes who reported receiving a teammate critical comment have higher eating/exercise psychopathology and poorer psychological wellbeing versus matched athletes who have not, (2) determine whether gender differences exist in the perceived severity of critical comments and (3) evaluate the moderating role of gender when establishing the relative importance of explicit teammate critical comments versus implicit teammate influences (e.g., modelling) on eating/exercise psychopathology. Athletes (N=646, Mage=23 years, n=391 female) completed a survey exploring explicit/implicit teammate influences, psychological wellbeing (self-esteem, anxiety, depression) and eating/exercise psychopathology. Athletes receiving a teammate critical comment (n=323) had significantly higher eating/exercise psychopathology, anxiety, and lower self-esteem compared to those who had not (n=323). Females (n=196) perceived the severity of the comment to be significantly worse than males (n=127). Explicit critical comments had a greater influence on athletes’ eating/exercise psychopathology versus implicit teammate influences. Disordered eating/compulsive exercise prevention efforts with athlete populations should highlight the detrimental impact that athletes’ comments can have on teammates’ wellbeing and body satisfaction.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences