The importance of motivational orientation towards the muscular ideal versus the stigmatised burdensome body in male body dissatisfaction Academic Article uri icon


  • Internalisation of the muscular ideal is a vulnerability factor for body dissatisfaction in males. It is unclear, however, whether body dissatisfaction results from approach towards the muscular ideal versus fear of the stigmatised burdensome body. The current study sought to address this gap by assessing both approach and avoidance motivation regarding muscular and non-muscular bodies, respectively, and evaluating the unique associations between approach-avoidance tendencies and body dissatisfaction. Eighty-three male undergraduate students completed an implicit measure of approach-avoidance tendencies, the Stimulus Response Compatibility task, and a self-report measure of trait body dissatisfaction. Results revealed that participants were quicker to approach than to avoid muscular bodies; however, there were no differences in approach vs. avoidance tendencies regarding non-muscular bodies. Furthermore, in a multiple regression model comprising motivational bias scores regarding muscular and non-muscular bodies, only an approach bias towards muscular bodies predicted unique variance in body dissatisfaction. These findings are novel in showing an implicit approach motivation towards the muscular ideal in male undergraduates. Furthermore, in this population, motivational orientation towards the muscular ideal, versus the stigmatised burdensome body, seems to be more tightly associated with body dissatisfaction.

publication date

  • 2019