The relationship between traditional masculinity and drive for muscularity in college-age men




Leeth, Christopher

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There are a growing number of men who are experiencing body image dissatisfaction. For many men, this concern revolves around wanting larger muscles. This concern can lead to unhealthy practices, and in extreme cases, steroid use in order to create larger muscles. Past research has suggested a relationship between the traditional masculine gender role, and this drive for muscularity.

This study examined that relationship by collecting data from 500 college men. Multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between masculine factors and the thoughts and behaviors associated with wanting larger muscles. Additionally, factor analysis was used to determine how an instrument that measures masculinity the (Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46; Parent & Moradi, 2009) works with a diverse sample of participants. Finally, a t-test was used to examine differences between White and Latino students.

The results of regressions indicate that being self-reliant was the biggest predictor of thoughts about wanting large muscles, followed by wanting to have sex and to appear heterosexual. Appearing heterosexual was the biggest predictor of behaviors associated with obtaining larger muscles, followed by the importance of work, the importance of winning, and having sex. The factor analysis revealed that the CMNI-46 retains its factor structure with a culturally diverse sample of participants. Finally, the t-test showed only one significant difference in mean subscale scores between White and Latino students; being violent was the only difference in mean scores. Implications for college counselors are provided.


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body image, college, masculinity, muscularity