Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Dr. Frederick Grieve, (Director),Dr. Pitt Derryberry,Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski
Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
The goal of the current study was to examine the relationship between muscle magazine consumption and body dissatisfaction. The study also examined the relationship between muscle magazine consumption and the amount of disparity between ideal and real body shape. Participants (N = 108) were recruited via study board, and also on a volunteer basis, from a mid-Western university with a population of 20,674 students. The first hypothesis stated that men with greater exposure to muscle magazines would indicate that their actual body shape falls further away from their ideal body shape, in terms of both muscularity and fat level, than men who read fewer magazines that focus on muscle building. The second hypothesis stated that men with greater exposure to muscle magazines would indicate higher levels of body dissatisfaction than men who read fewer magazines focused on muscle building. To evaluate the first hypothesis, a linear regression analysis was conducted to determine whether magazine consumption would predict the distance between real and ideal body shape, in terms of both fat and muscle content. Results did not support the first hypothesis and are not consistent with prior research that showed higher levels of muscle and fitness magazine consumption correlating positively with a greater drive for thinness and a greater drive for muscularity. Results did not support the second hypothesis: greater exposure to muscle magazines did not lead to greater levels of body dissatisfaction. Regression analysis found that there was no predictive relationship between muscle magazine consumption and body dissatisfaction or muscle magazine consumption and greater distance between ideal and real body shapes. Additional t-test analysis found that men who read muscle magazines actually indicated significantly lower levels of dissatisfaction with their bodies than men who did not read muscle magazines; however, that result is restricted to collegiate athletes only.
Results from this study are important in that they indicate, in men, there are other factors involved in determining how individuals end up with increased levels of body dissatisfaction. Prior findings also concluded that men’s concerns with body shape thrive as a combination of multiple constructs involving social, personal, and mass media factors. Although magazine literature has some bearing on body image concern, particularly with women, it is unclear as to whether magazine consumption contributes to its effect on men.
One limitation of this study is that participants reported on the degree to which they were dissatisfied with their bodies. Some individuals may not have acknowledged their level of dissatisfaction with their own bodies. Information based upon self-reporting measures may have been inaccurate due to under or over reporting in surveys. Another limitation of this study, particularly when using the results as a comparison tool toward previous studies, is that the measures used to determine levels of body dissatisfaction differ. Researchers abroad have used different measures to arrive at what would be considered similar conclusions regarding body dissatisfaction. There are multiple measures that can be used to determine a person’s level of satisfaction and drive for muscularity. Some measures are better than others at capturing variable characteristics.
Another important limitation is that muscle magazines only represent one form of media consumption. A study that incorporated other forms of media may be more fruitful in its findings. Therefore, results should be interpreted with caution. However, with everexpanding information technology capabilities, society is increasingly bombarded with information more so than ever before. This study provides additional insight into the question of whether or not more is better. It also identifies a gender difference in the predicting power of magazine consumption and body dissatisfaction.
Cognition and Perception | Health Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology
Kirchmeyer, Richard H., "An Examination of Body Dissatisfaction and Media Exposure" (2009). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 126.