Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Frederick Grieve (Director), Amy Brausch, Aaron Wichman

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Muscle dysmorphia is a relatively new psychological disorder primarily affecting males who engage in weightlifting or bodybuilding. Individuals with this disorder are obsessed with the idea that their body is not sufficiently lean or muscular when compared to others and engage in several, risky behaviors (i.e., frequent exercise sessions, anabolic steroid use, structured diets) to increase muscularity. As obtaining and maintaining a muscular physique is so important to his or her self-worth, an individual may have little insight to how their behaviors are affecting their social and occupational lives and are reluctant to seek out psychological treatment. The purpose of this study was to assess obligation to exercise, motivation and reason to exercise, athletic identity, and behaviors of muscle dysmorphia and examine their relationship to insight and recognition of criteria for muscle dysmorphia through correlation and regression tests. Participants (N = 85) completed a series of questionnaires to assess the independent variables and were then administered two questionnaires designed for the study to assess insight to any criteria participants might be experiencing and recognition of criteria in a case vignette also designed for the study. Analyses of results showed that participants with a higher athletic identity and more behaviors of muscle dysmorphia had a higher level of insight than participants with low athletic identity and fewer behaviors of muscle dysmorphia; on the other hand, individuals with more behaviors of muscle dysmorphia had a lower recognition of criteria of muscle dysmorphia than those with fewer behaviors. These findings support the notion that individuals participating in athletics and exercises to enhance muscularity have varying levels of insight to their preoccupation with improving their body shape.


Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology