Individual differences and the effects of viewing ideal media portrayals on body satisfaction and drive for muscularity : testing new moderators for men
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Historically, cultural pressures to be thin and their effects on women (e.g., body dissatisfaction, disordered eating) have received considerable attention from researchers and clinicians. However, acknowledgement of cultural pressures on men to be muscular and lean is much more recent, as are men's increasing rates of body dissatisfaction and body-changing behaviors (i.e., drive for muscularity, nutritional supplement/steroid use, excessive weightlifting). The increasing presence of idealized lean, muscular men in the media may be one of the influences on men's increasing body dissatisfaction, although studies examining the relationship between viewing these idealized portrayals and men's drive for muscularity/body satisfaction have yielded mixed results. Additionally, individual difference factors that may influence this relationship need further investigation. The purpose of this study was to address these two areas of research. It was hypothesized that men exposed to idealized television portrayals of lean, muscular men would report higher muscle/body fat dissatisfaction and drive for muscularity attitudes scores compared to men exposed to television portrayals of average-looking men. Additionally, it was predicted that men who report higher perfectionism, neuroticism, and drive for muscularity, and who more strongly endorse traditional attitudes about the male role, would report higher drive for muscularity and muscle/body fat dissatisfaction at post-test compared to men who report lower perfectionism, neuroticism, and drive for muscularity, and who are less concerned with traditional male role norms. Two-hundred-thirty-five undergraduate men at The University of Texas at Austin participated in the online study. During Phase 1, participants completed questionnaires assessing drive for muscularity, muscle/body fat dissatisfaction, perfectionism, neuroticism, and attitudes about the male role. One week later, they were randomly assigned to either the muscular-image or average-image group to complete Phase 2. After viewing television commercials corresponding with their experimental groups, participants again completed all pre-test measures. Results suggested that men in the average-image group (rather than the muscular-image group) with high drive for muscularity experienced greater body fat dissatisfaction than men with low drive for muscularity. Interesting findings regarding the relationships among perfectionism, neuroticism and drive for muscularity/body dissatisfaction also emerged. Implications of the study, strengths, limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.