Materials and methods

In order to collect insights on some aspects of the self-referent thought such as BI and BS in Italian male rugby players, to 47 male athletes aged 23.4 ± 3.54 years (min 17, max 35) a questionnaire was administered. It contained a set of vital statistics questions plus others regarding the athletic curriculum, in order to permit the inclusion of each athlete inside one of the two groups: A and B.

The first included those inside the international tournament Pro 12 or belonging to the category Excellence (n=30); while in the second those professionals belonging to lower categories, such as A and C Leagues (n=17). As most of the questionnaires were collected on-line, it was not possible to measure some anthropometric characteristics of our athletes. Therefore the Body Mass Index (BMI or body mass/square of stature, in Kg/m2) was calculated asking the subjects to report their weight and height.

This procedure can be conducive of errors (as respondents can minimize weight and maximize height), however it is useful to identify relationships (Spencer 2002). Interesting to note that this index has been recently associated by Baccouche et al. (2014) to cognitive performance, as they found in a sample of Tunisian rugby players, a reduction in visual and verbal memory in the athletes with higher BMI.

Then the Italian version of the Fallon & Rozin’s Test (Fallon & Rozin 1985; Rozin & Fallon 1988), using a version modified by Casagrande, Viviani & Grassivaro Gallo (1997) on the basis of the suggestions furnished by Stunkart, Sørensen & Schlusinger (1980) was added. The test was chosen because, despite the variations in the test-retest reliability found in different studies, the results were fairly consistent (Cohane & Pope 2001).

Then the Body Part Satisfaction Scale (BPSS-Berscheid, Walster & Bohrnstedt 1973), whose validity appears to be high (Petrie et al. 2002) was inserted inside the questionnaire. The first test was a figurine test, containing seven line drawings of male and female bodies, ranging from very slender to obese.

Each figurine had a numeric value, from 10 (very thin) to 70, very heavy. Participants were asked to select the number below the figurine which best corresponded to different questions, such as:

1) How do you currently look (CUR)?

2) Which figurine better represents how you feel the majority of times (TIME)?

3) How would you like to look (LIKE)?

4) Which figure better represents how the others see your physique (OTHERS)?

5) Which figure of the other sex is more attractive for you (AT-OT)?

6) Which figure of the same sex is more valid for the practice of rugby (RU-SA)?

7) Which figurine of the other sex is more valid for the practice of rugby (RU-OTH)?

The BPSS, subsequently administered, is a 21-item questionnaire asking the degree of satisfaction/dissatisfaction of the different parts of the body using a 6-levels Likert type scale. For each of the items we also asked if the athletes considered that body part to be important or not.