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Differences in appearance-focused social comparisons of British male gym users: Is exercise mode important? Background Traditionally researchers have been.

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Presentation on theme: "Differences in appearance-focused social comparisons of British male gym users: Is exercise mode important? Background Traditionally researchers have been."— Presentation transcript:

1 Differences in appearance-focused social comparisons of British male gym users: Is exercise mode important? Background Traditionally researchers have been concerned with the association between exercise and female body image, in contrast relatively little is known about male body image. Western men are thought to strive for a muscular body ideal that may result in excessive exercise, obsessive dieting and misuse of supplements (Brennan et al., 2011). Whilst body image concerns may motivate exercise participation, it is uncertain if these vary according to exercise mode. Body image research is largely atheoretical and predominately descriptive. One potential framework to examine the social context of body image is Festinger’s (1954) Social Comparison Theory. Humans have an innate drive to evaluate themselves through comparison with others. These evaluations are often spontaneous, effortless and unintentional. The goal of such comparisons are for self-improvement and self-enhancement (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999). Comparisons can be: i.Upward – similar other of superior standing ii.Downward – similar other of inferior standing Background Traditionally researchers have been concerned with the association between exercise and female body image, in contrast relatively little is known about male body image. Western men are thought to strive for a muscular body ideal that may result in excessive exercise, obsessive dieting and misuse of supplements (Brennan et al., 2011). Whilst body image concerns may motivate exercise participation, it is uncertain if these vary according to exercise mode. Body image research is largely atheoretical and predominately descriptive. One potential framework to examine the social context of body image is Festinger’s (1954) Social Comparison Theory. Humans have an innate drive to evaluate themselves through comparison with others. These evaluations are often spontaneous, effortless and unintentional. The goal of such comparisons are for self-improvement and self-enhancement (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999). Comparisons can be: i.Upward – similar other of superior standing ii.Downward – similar other of inferior standing Results. Inter-correlations between the dependent variables revealed insufficient evidence of strong correlations between social comparison and body image variables. Therefore two MANCOVAs were performed. Physical Appearance and Drive for Muscularity MANCOVA analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between men exercising using different modes on the combined physical appearance variables (F (10, 146) = , p <.0001; Pillai’s Trace =.906, ES =.453). Age was a significant covariate. Further analyses were performed to investigate any effects on the dependent variables… General Social Comparisons MANCOVA analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between men exercising using different modes in terms of the three social comparison orientations (F (6, 150) = , p <.0001; Pillai’s Trace =.583, ES =.291). Age was a significant covariate. Further analyses were performed to investigate any effects on the dependent variables … No statistically significant differences were found between the exercise groups in terms of Downward Comparisons. Age Age was a significant covariate in both analyses, indicating that younger men make more social comparisons and experience greater concern regarding their physical appearance than older male exercisers. Results. Inter-correlations between the dependent variables revealed insufficient evidence of strong correlations between social comparison and body image variables. Therefore two MANCOVAs were performed. Physical Appearance and Drive for Muscularity MANCOVA analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between men exercising using different modes on the combined physical appearance variables (F (10, 146) = , p <.0001; Pillai’s Trace =.906, ES =.453). Age was a significant covariate. Further analyses were performed to investigate any effects on the dependent variables… General Social Comparisons MANCOVA analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between men exercising using different modes in terms of the three social comparison orientations (F (6, 150) = , p <.0001; Pillai’s Trace =.583, ES =.291). Age was a significant covariate. Further analyses were performed to investigate any effects on the dependent variables … No statistically significant differences were found between the exercise groups in terms of Downward Comparisons. Age Age was a significant covariate in both analyses, indicating that younger men make more social comparisons and experience greater concern regarding their physical appearance than older male exercisers. Discussion The tendency to make social comparisons (upward or downward) does not appear to be strongly related to a drive for muscularity or attitudes toward physical appearance. Therefore people who make more social comparisons are not more or less happy with their physical appearance (White et al., 2006) which fails to support previous literature based on predominately female participants (Myers & Crowther, 2009). This study revealed consistent evidence that males who participate in resistance only exercise such as free weights, cables and pulleys tend to: Make more social comparisons (and upwards comparisons) More concerned with muscularity (both attitude and behaviour) More invested in their physical appearance (appearance orientation) Than those participating in cardiovascular exercise. Those using a combination of the two fall in the middle. Previous research has suggested that exercise is associated with a healthier body image (McCreay & Sasse, 2000), this would appear to be dependent upon exercise mode. The exercise setting may increase the frequency of social comparison to the muscular ideal (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2009). Age appears to play a key role when considering male body image parameters. Younger males had a drive to be more muscular, greater concern regarding physical appearance and tended to make more social comparisons, whereas older males appear not to be influenced by these variables. There is a need to establish the causality of these findings; are men using resistance exercises due to their body image and muscularity concerns or do men who use resistance exercises become more concerned with their appearance as a result of their involvement. Discussion The tendency to make social comparisons (upward or downward) does not appear to be strongly related to a drive for muscularity or attitudes toward physical appearance. Therefore people who make more social comparisons are not more or less happy with their physical appearance (White et al., 2006) which fails to support previous literature based on predominately female participants (Myers & Crowther, 2009). This study revealed consistent evidence that males who participate in resistance only exercise such as free weights, cables and pulleys tend to: Make more social comparisons (and upwards comparisons) More concerned with muscularity (both attitude and behaviour) More invested in their physical appearance (appearance orientation) Than those participating in cardiovascular exercise. Those using a combination of the two fall in the middle. Previous research has suggested that exercise is associated with a healthier body image (McCreay & Sasse, 2000), this would appear to be dependent upon exercise mode. The exercise setting may increase the frequency of social comparison to the muscular ideal (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2009). Age appears to play a key role when considering male body image parameters. Younger males had a drive to be more muscular, greater concern regarding physical appearance and tended to make more social comparisons, whereas older males appear not to be influenced by these variables. There is a need to establish the causality of these findings; are men using resistance exercises due to their body image and muscularity concerns or do men who use resistance exercises become more concerned with their appearance as a result of their involvement. Ruth Lowry & Christopher Metcalfe Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences, University of Chichester Method Design: A cross-sectional, self-report design. Participants: 80 adult males Aged 18 – 60 years, M = 29.2 years, SD = 9.31 Regular gym users - more than 3 months, 30 minutes or more per session, 3 or more sessions per week Type of exercise Resistance only (free weights, cables, pulleys) Cardiovascular only (running, cross-training, cycling) Combination of exercise modes Psychometrics: Drive for Muscularity (McCreary & Sasse, 2000) An individual’s perception of muscularity Sub-scales: i.Muscularity-Oriented Body Image Attitudes ii.Muscularity-Oriented Behaviours iii.Total Drive for Muscularity Multidimensional Body-Self Relations (Cash, 2000) An individual’s attitudes regarding physical appearance Sub-scales: i.Appearance Evaluation (AE) ii.Appearance Orientation (AO) iii.Overweight Preoccupation (OWP) iv.Self-classified Weight (SCW) v.Body Areas Satisfaction (BAS) Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999) Individual social comparison orientation Subscales: i.Upward ii.Downward iii.INCOM total Social Comparison Method Design: A cross-sectional, self-report design. Participants: 80 adult males Aged 18 – 60 years, M = 29.2 years, SD = 9.31 Regular gym users - more than 3 months, 30 minutes or more per session, 3 or more sessions per week Type of exercise Resistance only (free weights, cables, pulleys) Cardiovascular only (running, cross-training, cycling) Combination of exercise modes Psychometrics: Drive for Muscularity (McCreary & Sasse, 2000) An individual’s perception of muscularity Sub-scales: i.Muscularity-Oriented Body Image Attitudes ii.Muscularity-Oriented Behaviours iii.Total Drive for Muscularity Multidimensional Body-Self Relations (Cash, 2000) An individual’s attitudes regarding physical appearance Sub-scales: i.Appearance Evaluation (AE) ii.Appearance Orientation (AO) iii.Overweight Preoccupation (OWP) iv.Self-classified Weight (SCW) v.Body Areas Satisfaction (BAS) Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999) Individual social comparison orientation Subscales: i.Upward ii.Downward iii.INCOM total Social Comparison Conclusion The findings of the study suggest that participation in resistance only exercise such as free weights, cables and pulleys, is associated with an increased focus on appearance, in particular a drive to achieve the male muscular ideal. It appears that the tendency to compare oneself to the muscular ideal diminishes with age. These tendencies are associated with greater body dissatisfaction. Contact: Dr Ruth Lowry Ph: Conclusion The findings of the study suggest that participation in resistance only exercise such as free weights, cables and pulleys, is associated with an increased focus on appearance, in particular a drive to achieve the male muscular ideal. It appears that the tendency to compare oneself to the muscular ideal diminishes with age. These tendencies are associated with greater body dissatisfaction. Contact: Dr Ruth Lowry Ph: References Brennan, B.P., Kanayama, G., Hudson, J.I. & Pope, H.G. (2011). Human growth hormone abuse in male weightlifters. The American Journal on Addictions, 20, Cash, T. F. (2000). The multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire. MBSRQ User’s Manual (3 rd Revision). Retrieved Festinger, L. A. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, Gibbons, F. X. & Buunk, B. P. (1999). Individual differences in social comparison: Development of a scale of social comparison orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, Hargreaves, D. A. & Tiggemann, M. (2009). Muscular ideal media images and men's body image: Social comparison processing and individual vulnerability. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, McCreary, D. R. & Sasse, D. K. (2000). An exploration of the drive for muscularity in adolescent boys and girls. Journal of American College Health, 48, Myers, T. A., & Crowther, J. H. (2009). Social comparison as a predictor of body dissatisfaction: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, White, J., Langer, El., Yariv, L. & Welch, J. (2006). Frequent Social Comparisons and Destructive Emotions and Behaviors: The Dark Side of Social Comparisons. Journal of Adult Development, 13, References Brennan, B.P., Kanayama, G., Hudson, J.I. & Pope, H.G. (2011). Human growth hormone abuse in male weightlifters. The American Journal on Addictions, 20, Cash, T. F. (2000). The multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire. MBSRQ User’s Manual (3 rd Revision). Retrieved Festinger, L. A. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, Gibbons, F. X. & Buunk, B. P. (1999). Individual differences in social comparison: Development of a scale of social comparison orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, Hargreaves, D. A. & Tiggemann, M. (2009). Muscular ideal media images and men's body image: Social comparison processing and individual vulnerability. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, McCreary, D. R. & Sasse, D. K. (2000). An exploration of the drive for muscularity in adolescent boys and girls. Journal of American College Health, 48, Myers, T. A., & Crowther, J. H. (2009). Social comparison as a predictor of body dissatisfaction: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, White, J., Langer, El., Yariv, L. & Welch, J. (2006). Frequent Social Comparisons and Destructive Emotions and Behaviors: The Dark Side of Social Comparisons. Journal of Adult Development, 13, Aim To assess the differences between male gym users (predominant exercise mode) in terms of general social comparison tendencies, drive for muscularity and attitudes regarding the importance of physical appearance. Differences between those who exercise using resistance only, cardiovascular only and a combination of the two modes will be assessed whilst controlling for age. Aim To assess the differences between male gym users (predominant exercise mode) in terms of general social comparison tendencies, drive for muscularity and attitudes regarding the importance of physical appearance. Differences between those who exercise using resistance only, cardiovascular only and a combination of the two modes will be assessed whilst controlling for age. Resistance only exercisers had significantly higher Drive for Muscularity and Appearance Orientation scores than combination exercisers who in turn had significantly higher scores than cardiovascular exercisers. Resistance only exercisers had significantly higher Social Comparison Scores and Upward Comparisons than combination exercisers who in turn had significantly higher scores than cardiovascular exercisers. Cardiovascular only exercisers had higher Appearance Evaluation and Body Areas Satisfaction than combination exercisers who in turn had significantly higher scores than resistance only exercisers. Findings failed to reach significance


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