The objectives of the study were to explore the effect of self-presentation and psychological needs on exercise dependence and to provide an essential reference for preventing and inhibiting the production of exercise dependence in overweight college students.
The freshmen in two comprehensive universities accepted physical fitness tests, filled out the scales of self-presentation, psychological needs, and exercise dependence after obtaining their consent. A sample of 747 overweight college students who have regular exercise was screened using the formula of Fox sports participation and the standard of overweight for Chinese adults. Multiple regression, exploratory factor, and confirmatory factor analyses were used to analyze the related data.
(1) In overweight college students, compared with the lower peers, those with higher physical attractiveness were more likely to suffer from detoxification of emotion, physiology, and vitality, and compared with the lower peers, those with higher self-presentation were more likely to appear in physiological abstinence. (2) The self-presentation of overweight male and female students has a significant positive influence on psychological needs (beta = 0.31, p < 0.01, and 0.37, p < 0.01, respectively, for males and females) and exercise dependence (beta = −0.21, p < 0.01, and 0.26, p < 0.01, respectively, for males and females). In contrast, psychological needs have a significant negative influence on exercise dependence (beta = −0.21, p < 0.01, and −0.26, p < 0.01, respectively, for males and females). (3) The psychological needs of overweight male and female college students were established as the mediating effect of self-presentation and exercise dependence. The mediating effect of psychological needs of females was higher than that of males (18.5 vs. 15.5%). The “ability display” of male and female students can affect “emotional distress” by “autonomy” and “competence.” The sense of relationship partially mediated the “attractiveness” of male and female students. Also, females on the one hand, rely on “weight control” by “competence” to produce some mediating effects on “physiological distress.” At the same time, the “ability display” by “competence” has a full mediating effect on “physiological distress.”
In the self-presentation of the overweight college students, the higher scores in “attractiveness,” “weight control,” and “ability display,” the higher the psychological needs and exercise dependence; the higher the autonomy, competence, and relationship, the less the emotional, physiological, and dynamic distress.