Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Tony R. Young


The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in the effects of martial arts training on self-esteem and fear of physical assault. Two studies were performed. The Fear of Physical Assault Scale was developed in the first study in order to measure individuals' perceived vulnerability to attack. Results indicated that the instrument was a reliable measure. Males scored significantly higher on the scale, indicating that they tend to perceive themselves as less vulnerable and more competent at defending themselves against physical assault. The second study examined the effects of martial arts training on the self-esteem and fear of assault of male and female college students. Multiple analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference in the improvement of self-esteem scores of men and women. Women displayed a significant increase in self-esteem scores while males did not. Change in self-esteem scores was found to correlate with fear of physical assault. These results support the hypothesis that males and females enter martial arts training with different preconceptions about self-defense ability and vulnerability. These differing expectations seem to contribute to the differences observed in the effects of martial arts training on the esteem of males and females.