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Int J Eat Disord. 2019 Nov;52(11):1326-1331. doi: 10.1002/eat.23178. Epub 2019 Oct 14.

Negative psychological correlates of the pursuit of muscularity among women.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
2
Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
6
Department of Applied Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
7
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

There is increasing public and scientific focus on women's pursuit of a muscular and toned appearance. However, the psychological correlates of women's drive for muscularity are currently unclear. Therefore, we examined the associations of drive for muscularity with four important negative psychological indices among women: eating disorder (ED) symptoms, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

METHOD:

A sample of 221 university women completed an online survey that included measures assessing the aforementioned constructs.

RESULTS:

Drive for muscularity evidenced positive associations with all negative psychological indices, except for anxiety. Muscularity-oriented attitudes, as opposed to behaviors, demonstrated the strongest associations with ED and depression symptoms.

DISCUSSION:

Our findings make a novel contribution to the scant literature by demonstrating that women who endorse attitudes and/or behaviors geared toward attaining the female muscular ideal may be susceptible to experiencing ED symptoms and negative emotional states. This study provides preliminary evidence that muscularity-oriented attitudes, in particular, may be a promising target for the treatment of EDs and negative emotional states in women with a preoccupation toward muscularity.

KEYWORDS:

drive for muscularity; eating disorders; female; negative psychological states; women

PMID:
31609026
DOI:
10.1002/eat.23178

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