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How is masculinity related to body image? A cross-cultural investigation


Research indicates a relationship between masculinity and body image and highlights the importance of muscularity in young men's sense of masculinity. However, cross-cultural differences in these relationships have not been explored. We examined how conformity to masculine norms relates to attitudes toward muscularity, leanness, and thinness in men from Sweden, US, UK, and Australia and whether internalization of the muscular ideal mediated these relationships.


Over five hundred males [n = 142 (Sweden), 192 (US), 93 (UK), and 118 (Australia)] completed an online survey that included the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory, the Drive for Muscularity/Leanness/Thinness scales, and the Sociocultural Attitudes toward Appearance Questionnaire.


Path analyses confirmed that greater conformity to masculine norms predicted higher scores on measures of body change attitudes (drive for thinness, desire for leanness, and desire for muscularity), and identified internalization as a mediator of this relationship. However, structural invariance tests demonstrated significant cultural differences in the strength of these mediation effects. Further examination indicated that mediation effects among American, Australian, and Swedish males were comparable, whereas these effects were substantially weaker in the UK sample.


Cultural differences in the role of internalization of the muscular ideal may inform research and prevention interventions.

This abstract was presented in the Body Image stream of the 2013 ANZAED Conference.

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Correspondence to Debra Franko.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Franko, D., Gattario, K.H., Frisen, A. et al. How is masculinity related to body image? A cross-cultural investigation. J Eat Disord 1 (Suppl 1), O48 (2013).

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