Publication Date

8-2008

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Frederick Grieve (Director), Dr. Debra Crisp, Dr. Kathi Miner-Rubino

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to examine the relationships between gender schema, level of cultural identification, and body dissatisfaction in African American men. The first hypothesis under study was that men with a low identification to African American culture would report higher dissatisfaction with their body than those with a high cultural identification. Secondly, it was hypothesized that men with a large discrepancy from their culture’s description of an “ideal man” would also report higher body dissatisfaction than those with low or no discrepancy. Lastly, it was hypothesized that an interaction between variables would occur and that men who were less identified with their African American culture and reported themselves as not matching their culture’s masculine ideal would have higher levels of body dissatisfaction than men who were highly identified with their African American culture and reported themselves as strongly matching their culture’s masculine ideal.

Participants were 42 college and post-graduate African American males that were recruited from a Southern university. Participants were assessed using the Body Assessment (BA), Body Satisfaction Questionnaire (BSQ), Physical Appearance Comparison Scale (PACS), Physical Attractiveness Scale (PAS), Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS), and the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI). Results supported all three hypotheses: men lower in cultural identification with a high masculine discrepancy reported higher body dissatisfaction than those higher in cultural identification with a lower masculine discrepancy.

The importance of these findings is that, as the idealized physical image of masculinity becomes more ubiquitous, it is likely that men who measure themselves against this ideal will have greater difficulty achieving self-acceptance and struggle for an unrealistic (and often unhealthy) level of control. Such a struggle for control could lead to engagement in behaviors that could potentially contribute to poor health such as pathological or disordered eating, excessive exercise, and abuse of performance-enhancing substances including food supplements and anabolic steroids. Limitations and suggestions for continued research are also discussed.

Disciplines

Cognition and Perception | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology