Individual differences in male body-image: An examination of self-objectification in recreational body builders

  • Hallsworth L
  • Wade T
  • Tiggemann M
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OBJECTIVES: Male bodybuilders have been found previously to have higher levels of disordered eating and body-image disturbance than do other men. This study investigated whether objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) could be used to explain these observed differences in male body-image. DESIGN: A cross-sectional, self-report design was used. METHODS: Three samples of men were recruited: bodybuilders (N = 31), weightlifters (N = 17), and non-athletic controls (N = 35). Participants completed a questionnaire containing measures of self-objectification, self-surveillance, body shame, appearance anxiety, and four outcomes: body dissatisfaction, drive for muscularity, bulimia, and depression. RESULTS: As predicted, bodybuilders had significantly higher levels of self-objectification than weightlifters and controls, and higher levels of body dissatisfaction and drive for muscularity than controls. Overall, the relationships between self-objectification and the outcome variables, and self-surveillance and the outcome variables, were mediated by appearance anxiety. CONCLUSIONS: Bodybuilding is associated with outcomes that suggest it may not result in greater overall health for men. It was concluded that objectification theory provides a useful framework for examining body-image differences in men.

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