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Muscles and the media : a natural experiment across cultures in men’s body image.

Thornborrow, Tracey and Onwuegbusi, Tochukwu and Mohamed, Sophie and Boothroyd, Lynda G. and Tovée, Martin J. (2020) 'Muscles and the media : a natural experiment across cultures in men’s body image.', Frontiers in psychology., 11 . p. 495.

Abstract

An increasing number of studies are evidencing relationships between the drive for muscularity and potentially harmful behavioral strategies, such as unhealthy dieting and steroid use amongst men in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) populations. As such Western appearance standards proliferate around the world via the media, men who live in other cultural contexts are also at risk of potentially negative effects from aspiring to the “muscular ideal.” However, few studies have explored these relationships in non-WEIRD populations. We investigated men’s body ideals and body image in two non-WEIRD, non-White populations, Uganda (Africa) and Nicaragua (Central America), and compared them with an ethnically diverse sample of men in the United Kingdom. We also examined whether socio-cultural factors including media and ethnicity, predicted the drive for muscularity and body change behaviors among our participants. Results showed that Ugandan men had the least desire for muscularity relative to men in the United Kingdom. Supporting the Tripartite model we found that media and peer influences significantly predicted the drive for muscularity, particularly among men from White British and Nicaraguan Miskitu ethnic groups. By contrast, Creole / Garifuna and Mestizo men from Nicaragua were more likely to want to increase muscularity relative to Black African men from Uganda. Overall, our findings support previous research in demonstrating that there are cultural differences in the kind of body men desire, and that men from WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations may experience similar pressures to aspire to and attain a muscular body type.

Item Type:Article
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00495
Publisher statement:Copyright © 2020 Thornborrow, Onwuegbusi, Mohamed, Boothroyd and Tovée. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:02 March 2020
Date deposited:29 April 2020
Date of first online publication:03 March 2020
Date first made open access:29 April 2020

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