The relationship between psychosocial variables and drive for muscularity among male bodybuilding supplement users

Timothy M. Piatkowski, Patricia L. Obst, Katherine M. White, Leanne Hides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Given that a high drive for muscularity (DM) has been found to be associated with negative mental health outcomes for men, this research examined pathways involving social influence which may explain why some men are more susceptible to a DM than others. Method: Building on previous qualitative research, this study examined psychosocial factors (self-esteem, perception of body by others, and body satisfaction during youth) and social influences (peer pressure and social media) associated with DM among young Australian men who lift weights and take bodybuilding supplements daily (N= 250)–both precursors for developing risky body enhancement strategies. This investigation extends the conceptualisation of social influence factors to include social identity (ingroup identification with a muscularity centred subculture). Results: Path analysis found social media and peer pressure were directly associated with DM. Self-esteem and perception of body by others had a direct association with DM and an indirect association mediated by peer pressure and social media. Ingroup identification with a muscularity-centred subculture was associated with perception of body by others, peer pressure, and social media. Conclusions: These findings highlight the mediating role of social influences on DM in young men, reinforcing the role of peers especially via online mediums. Key Points What is already known about this topic: Men are increasingly reporting body dissatisfaction, often associated with an increased drive for muscularity. Research indicates a drive for muscularity is associated with psychosocial factors (e.g., self-esteem) and increasingly social influences (e.g., social media). Questions remain as to why some men are more susceptible than others to perform muscularity enhancing behaviour.What this topic adds: An online survey of 250 young men who weight-train and take supplements found social media and peer pressure had strong direct associations with DM. Psychosocial factors had direct and indirect associations with DM, mediated by the social influences of peer pressure and social media. Ingroup identification with a muscularity-centred subculture did not have a direct association with DM but was linked via other social influence constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Volume57
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

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