The media's representation of the ideal male body: A cause for muscle dysmorphia?


  • Richard A. Leit,

    Corresponding author
    1. Staten Island Mental Health Society, Staten Island, New York
    • Staten Island Mental Health Society, 669 Castleton Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301. Dr. Leit was at the Department of Psychology of America, University when this research was conducted.
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  • James J. Gray,

    1. Department of Psychology, American University, Washington, DC
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  • Harrison G. Pope Jr.

    1. Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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This study sought to examine the effects of media images on men's attitudes toward their body appearance.


A group of college men viewed advertisements showing muscular men, whereas a control group viewed neutral advertisements. Immediately thereafter, participants performed a computerized test of body image perception while unaware of the hypotheses being tested in the study.


The students exposed to the muscular images showed a significantly greater discrepancy between their own perceived muscularity and the level of muscularity that they ideally wanted to have.


These findings suggest that media images, even in a brief presentation, can affect men's views of their bodies. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 334–338, 2002; DOI 10.1002/eat.10019