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Masculinity and muscularity across Western cultures

Conference contribution
Authors Kristina Holmqvist Gattario
Ann Frisén
Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz
Lina Ricciardelli
Phillippa Diedrichs
Zali Yager
Debra Franko
Linda Smolak
Published in Appearance Matters 6, 1-2 July, Bristol, England
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


Previous research has suggested that men’s conformity to masculine norms (CMN) is an important correlate of men’s drive for muscularity. The present study aims to further delineate the relationship between masculinity and men’s body image by examining various dimensions of CMN in relation to various dimensions of men’s body image (muscularity, leanness, and fitness) in a cross-cultural sample. Participants comprised young men from the United States (n = 192), the United Kingdom (n = 141), Australia (n = 160), and Sweden (n = 142) - men who may be similarly exposed to the muscular ideal but who may differ in their degree of CMN. Multi-group path analyses showed that CMN was related to body image in all four countries, but there were cross-cultural differences in which dimensions of CMN that predicted men’s body image. Whereas conformity to the dimension of ‘winning’ predicted men’s fitness orientation in all four countries, conformity to the dimension of ‘violent behavior’ particularly predicted UK men’s fitness orientation and drive for muscularity. Conformity to the dimension of ‘playboy attitude’ was related to US and Australian men’s drive for muscularity, but was not applicable to UK and Swedish men. Among Swedish men, conformity to the dimensions of ‘winning’ and ‘priority of work’ were most salient in predicting their body image. These findings suggest that masculinity norms play an important role in Western men’s body image; however, the relationship between masculinity and muscularity may function different cross-culturally.

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