Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Predictors of Body Dissatisfaction in Asian and Caucasian Males: A Preliminary Test of a Three Factor Model

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Predictors of Body Dissatisfaction in Asian and Caucasian Males: A Preliminary Test of a Three Factor Model

Article excerpt

This study explored the associations between body dissatisfaction (BD), internalization, acculturation, masculinity, femininity and appearance-based rejection sensitivity, (ABRS). A web-based survey resulted in 55 Asian and 50 Australian Caucasian male university students between 17 and 44 years of age. Univariate analyses resulted in Asian males reporting significantly higher BD than Caucasian males. Bivariate correlations indicated that BD was significantly and positively correlated with internalization and ABRS in Asian and Caucasian males. Masculinity was negatively correlated with BD in Caucasian males only. Multiple regressions indicated that the only independent predictors of BD were internalization and ABRS. This study suggests that male Asian university students in Australia are at particular risk of developing body image disturbances, irrespective of their level of acculturation. Further studies replicating the influence of ABRS on a broader range of cultures and genders may help to investigate the generalizability of these findings.

Keywords: body dissatisfaction, males, Asian, rejection sensitivity, masculinity internalization


Body image has long been an area of concern for women rather than men, and particularly for Western women. However, non-Western and male bodies are receiving increased scrutiny through media and advertising, and men are increasingly becoming research targets. The central disregard for men's body image is the conviction that they are at minor risk of developing psychological problems associated with their appearance (Schooler & Ward, 2006). Similarly, those from non-Western backgrounds are also thought to be protected from such concerns (Gordon, Perez, & Joiner, 2002). Present research indicates that male BD is on the rise (Morry & Staska, 2001), and has been linked to psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, muscle dysmorphia, shame, and low self-esteem, and dangerous behaviors such as compulsive exercise, disordered eating, and use of steroids and supplements (Cash & Fleming, 2002; Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004). This study will focus on Asian and Caucasian men to explore a range of factors associated with body dissatisfaction (BD) in an effort to obtain a deeper understanding of how BD develops in men.

Research based on socio-cultural and social comparison theories suggests that media exposure to and comparison with male body ideals was positively associated with BD in men (Morrison, Morrison, & Hopkins, 2003). Generally, men feel pressure to have more muscles and less fat, which has been associated with masculine identity in Western countries (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2004), which is changing over time (Morry & Staska, 2001), whereas women feel pressure to lose weight (Cafri & Thompson, 2004). Masculinity has been linked to body-image disturbances in men (McCreary, Saucier, & Courtenay, 2005). This ideal is not achievable for the majority of men and has been responsible for a rise in the misuse of anabolic steroids and other potentially dangerous supplements (Pope et al., 2000). As men internalize these ideals by setting them as aspirations, they experience body image related issues as a consequence of not reaching those goals (Arbour & Martin Ginis, 2006; Morrison et al., 2003).

BD and gendered personality traits (Bern, 1981; Spence & Helmreich, 1978) have been proposed by self-discrepancy theory in women (Johnson & Petrie, 1995). Self-discrepancy theory (Steiner-Adair, 1986) links eating disorders in women with low levels of masculinity. The different set of expectations between women's socialization (i.e., being feminine) and what society currently expects from them (i.e., masculine traits), creates inner conflict that could result in eating disorder pathology. Most of the previous studies have been supporting this theory (e.g., Jackson, Sullivan, & Rostker, 1988), even though some inconsistencies exist (Snyder & Hasbrouck, 1996). …

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