Men’s perception of current and ideal body composition and the influence of media internalisation on body judgements

Vicki Groves, Bethany Ridley, Piers Cornelissen, Nadia Maalin, Sophie Mohamed, Robin Kramer, Kris McCarty, Martin Tovee*, Katri Cornelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

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To determine men’s body ideals and the factors that influence these choices, this study used a matrix of computer generated (CG) male bodies (based on an analysis of 3D scanned real bodies) which independently varied in fat and muscle content. Two hundred and fifty-eight male participants completed a range of psychometric measures to index body concerns and body ideal internalisation and then chose the CG body that best reflected their own current body, as well as the body that reflected their personal ideal. A subset of participants was then retested to check that these judgements were stable over time. While judgements of the ideal body seem to be influenced by a shared appearance ideal, the degree to which this ideal was internalised showed significant variability between participants. The effect of this internalisation was reflected in the difference between the estimated current body and the ideal. Higher internalisation led to a preference for higher muscle and lower fat content. This preference was most marked for fat content, although reducing adiposity also made the underlying musculature more salient. Additionally, the ideal body composition was modulated by the composition the participant believed his current body had (i.e., it seemed that a participant’s ideal body was anchored by what they believed to be their current body and what change was possible from this starting point).
Original languageEnglish
Article number1116686
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2023

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