Male body image: testosterone's response to body comparisons
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Although there have been only a few etiological studies that have examined the development and maintenance of body image in males, research fairly consistently reports that exposure and presumed comparison to images of ideal male bodies increases body dissatisfaction. Social comparison provides individuals with a mechanism by which to evaluate their body appearance to those around them. When individuals compare their bodies to those of others, they are attempting to gauge their standing or status relative to those around them, the results of which have inherent status implications. There is increasing empirical evidence that suggests perceived increases in status result in increased testosterone levels, whereas testosterone decreases when status is perceived as having been diminished. Thus, the core of the present study: can the process of comparing the appearance of oneÂs body to that of others affect the testosterone levels, body satisfaction, and mood of males? To examine the above research questions, a two-part study was designed. A pilot study was conducted with 117 male undergraduates primarily to examine the psychometrics of measures to be used in the main study. The measures appeared psychometrically sound and were thus used in the main study. In the main study, 129 male undergraduates were exposed to photographs of one of three male body types (i.e., lean/muscular, skinny, average) to determine whether or not exposure to the different body types differentially affected participantsÂ testosterone levels, body satisfaction, and mood. Results indicate that testosterone levels decreased over the course of the experiment in each of the three groups; however, the body type to which participants were exposed did not differentially affect participantsÂ testosterone levels. Body dissatisfaction was greater among participants who viewed lean/muscular bodies than those who viewed average bodies. Lastly, mood was not differentially affected by viewing different types of male bodies. Implications and possible explanations for these results are discussed.
Brown, Joshua D. (0001). Male body image: testosterone's response to body comparisons. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from