Objectification, Masculinity, and Muscularity: A Test of Objectification Theory with Heterosexual Men
Objectification theory is increasingly used to explain the body image-related experiences of men because research indicates that men are at heightened risk for body image concerns because of sociocultural messages regarding appearance of the male body. Although researchers have explored body image concerns among men, it is important to understand various sociocultural correlates relating to their body image disturbances. Therefore, we introduced gender role conflict in the present study to better explain their drive for muscularity. Based on data from 473 heterosexual men in the United States, the proposed model demonstrated excellent data fit, although several of the paths were non-significant, suggesting mixed support for the utility of objectification theory in the context of men’s body image. Specifically, sexual objectification experiences did not uniquely predict self-objectification and body surveillance—key internalizing variables in the objectification theory framework—and these variables had multiple non-significant relationships with additional hypothesized variables. However, gender role conflict was significantly related to objectification theory variables, suggesting the importance of attending to this variable when understanding heterosexual men’s body image disturbances. A more parsimonious model—with non-significant paths removed—was also explored and demonstrated excellent data fit. Limitations, future areas of research, and practice implications are discussed.
KeywordsObjectification theory Gender role conflict Drive for muscularity Masculinity Heterosexual men
Compliance with Ethical Standards
We declare that we have no financial or non-financial conflicts of interest. In addition, our participants were provided with informed consent, detailing the risk and benefits of participating in this study. Only human subjects participated in this study.
- Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Body mass index. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.
- Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fredrickson, B. L., Roberts, T. A., Noll, S. M., Quinn, D. M., & Twenge, J. M. (1998). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 269–284. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gervais, S. J., Davidson, M. M., Styck, K., Canivez, G., & DiLillo, D. (2017). The development and psychometric properties of the interpersonal sexual objectification scale-perpetration version. Psychology of Violence. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000148.
- Good, G. E., Robertson, J. M., O’Neil, J. M., Fitzgerald, L. F., Stevens, M., DeBord, K. A., … Braverman, D. G. (1995). Male gender role conflict: Psychometric issues and relations to psychological distress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42, 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-018.104.22.168.
- hooks, B. (1981). Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. Boston, MA: South End.Google Scholar
- Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- McKinley, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1996). The objectified body consciousness scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 181–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00467.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Moradi, B., Dirks, D., & Matteson, A. V. (2005). Roles of sexual objectification experiences and internalization of standards of beauty in eating disorder symptomatology: A test and extension of objectification theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52, 420–428. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-022.214.171.1240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Morry, M. M., & Staska, S. L. (2001). Magazine exposure: Internalization, self-objectification, eating attitudes, and body satisfaction in male and female university students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 33, 269–279. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0087148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Muthén, B. O., Muthén, L. K., & Asparouhov, T. (2016). Regression and mediation analysis using MPlus. Retrieved from http://www.statmodel.com/orderonline/.
- O’Neil, J. M. (1981). Patterns of gender role conflict and strain: Sexism and fear of femininity in men’s lives. Personnel & Guidance Journal, 60, 203–210. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2164-4918.1981.tb00282.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- O’Neil, J. M., Good, G. E., & Holmes, S. (1995). Fifteen years of theory and research on men’s gender role conflict. In R. F. Levant & W. S. Pollack (Eds.), A new psychology of men (pp. 164–206). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Stephens, C. (May 17, 2017). Sexual objectification of Black men: From Mapplethorpe to Calvin. Klein. Advocate. Retrieved from https://www.advocate.com/current-issue/2017/5/17/sexual-objectification-black-men-mapplethorpe-calvin-klein.
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar