Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This study examined the differences of men's and women's implicit and explicit attitudes towards three constructs of body images: muscular, obese, and skinny. Participants were 101 volunteers and included 31 male and 70 female college students attending Western Kentucky University. Age of the participants ranged from 18 to 59 years, with a mean of 21.23 years (SD = 6.47). All participants were given a questionnaire with a series of male and female body images along a continuum of obese-skinny-muscular. Participants were asked to first identify their current body image and then their ideal body image. They were then asked to rank the different male and female body images from 1 (least desirable) to 9 (most desirable). Participants were then given a series of computer implicit association tests (IAT) that presented pictures supporting constructs of: muscular, obese, and skinny. These constructs were paired equally with words that supported constructs of good and bad. The mean scores of each pairings were compared and then computed using Cohen's d against each other and then against the ranked results of the questionnaire. The IAT software prevented the differentiating between the three constructs the dimensional factors of men and women. As a result, our desired implicit constructs were not valid. The first hypothesis under study was that men and women will make more positive implicit attributions for the socially ideal body shapes (muscular men and thin women). The data generated were not suitable to challenge this hypothesis. The second hypothesis was that men and women will make more negative implicit attributions for body shapes that deviate from the ideal body shape (obese men and women, muscular women and thin men). The data generated were also not suitable to challenge this hypothesis. The final hypothesis was that men and women will differ in their implicit and explicit attitudes toward body shapes, especially those that deviate from the social ideal. Men (M = 14.86; SD = 1.94) and women (M = 9.01; SD = 2.92, P = <.001) did differ in their explicit attitudes towards male images. There were no significant differences in either men's or women's explicit attitudes towards female body images and their implicit attitudes were not correctly assessed.



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