Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Though body-image has been well-researched in women for more than 40 years, theoretical discussions and empirical investigations addressing male body-image have only recently began to emerge. Work by Pope, Phillips and Olivardia (2000) has begun to identify the dynamics of male body-image distortions and the role media depictions of muscular men may play in their pathogenesis. The empirical literature is curiously devoid of experimental investigations of male responses to media and advertising depictions of muscular men.

The present study was designed to parallel the well-established literature examining women’s responses to fashion images in terms of changes in body-image and mood state post-exposure (Groesz, Levine & Mumen, 2002). The present study employed images of competitive bodybuilders and average men shown to men who worked out regularly (n=33) and men who did not (n=32). Measures of mood state (Profile of Mood States; McNair, Lorr & Droppleman, 1971), body-image (Body Shape Questionnaire; Cooper, Taylor, Cooper & Fairbum, 1987) and muscularity concerns (Swansea Muscularity Attitudes Questionnaire; Edwards & Launder, 2000) were taken pre and post-exposure to determine what changes may result from exposure.

Men responded to images of bodybuilders with increased drive for muscularity, increased attribution of positive characteristics to muscular men, decreased vigor, increased fatigue and increased depression. These effects were particularly strong in the men who worked out on a regular basis. These findings are discussed in the context of theoretical work in the area of male body-image disturbance as well as the empirical literature for women’s exposure to images of the media ideal. Future directions for research are recommended in light of present findings and limitations.