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Drive for Muscularity and Social Physique Anxiety Mediate the Perceived Ideal Physique Muscle Dysmorphia Relationship

Thomas, Adam1; Tod, David A.2; Edwards, Christian J.3; McGuigan, Michael R.4

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 12 - p 3508–3514
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000573
Original Research

Abstract: Thomas, A, Tod, DA, Edwards, CJ, and McGuigan, MR. Drive for muscularity and social physique anxiety mediate the perceived ideal physique muscle dysmorphia relationship. J Strength Cond Res 28(12): 3508–3514, 2014—This study examined the mediating role of drive for muscularity and social physique anxiety (SPA) in the perceived muscular male ideal physique and muscle dysmorphia relationship in weight training men. Men (N = 146, mean ± SD; age, 22.8 ± 5.0 years; weight, 82.0 ± 11.1 kg; height, 1.80 ± 0.07 m; body mass index, 25.1 ± 3.0) who participated in weight training completed validated questionnaires measuring drive for muscularity, SPA, perceived muscular male ideal physique, global muscle dysmorphia, and several characteristics of muscle dysmorphia (exercise dependence, diet manipulation, concerns about size/symmetry, physique protection behavior, and supplementation). Perceived ideal physique was an independent predictor of muscle dysmorphia measures except physique protection (coefficients = 0.113–0.149, p ≤ 0.05). Perceived ideal physique also predicted muscle dysmorphia characteristics (except physique protection and diet) through the indirect drive for muscularity pathway (coefficients = 0.055–0.116, p ≤ 0.05). Perceived ideal physique also predicted size/symmetry concerns and physique protection through the indirect drive for muscularity and SPA pathway (coefficients = 0.080–0.025, p ≤ 0.05). These results extend current research by providing insights into the way correlates of muscle dysmorphia interact to predict the condition. The results also highlight signs (e.g., anxiety about muscularity) that strength and conditioning coaches can use to identify at-risk people who may benefit from being referred for psychological assistance.

1Department of Psychology, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom;

2School of Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia;

3Institute of Sports and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, United Kingdom; and

4Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, School of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

Address correspondence to David A. Tod,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.