#gotmuscles? Instagram and Body Image in College Men

Lauren Paulson



The exploratory study investigated the immediate effect of exposure of ideal male bodies on Instagram on state body satisfaction, drive for muscularity, and body comparison in male college students.  Male college students were exposed to real Instagram accounts that included either images of the male mesomorphic ideal or neutral images.  State Body Satisfaction was measured before and immediately after using computer based visual analogue scales. After exposure, participants completed social comparison and drive for muscularity measures.  Exposure to muscular-ideal images on Instagram led to lower appearance satisfaction, weight satisfaction, and more social comparison compared to the neutral images.  The novel and interesting findings from this study provide preliminary evidence for the negative role of social media images, specifically via Instagram, on men’s body image and social comparison.


Social media; Instagram; male body image; drive for muscularity; male body satisfaction; objectification

Full Text:



Adams, G., Turner, H., & Bucks, R. (2005). The experience of body dissatisfaction in men. Body Image, 2(3), 271-283. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2005.05.004

Agliata, D., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2004). The impact of media exposure on males' body image. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 7-22. DOI:10.1521/jscp.

Andsager, J. L. (2014). Research directions in social media and body image. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), 407-413. //dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0430-4 Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1627954893?accountid=8268

Barthel, D. (1992). When men put on appearances: Advertising and the social construction of masculinity. In S. Craig (Ed.), Men, Masculinity, and the Media: Vol 1: Research on Men and Muscularity Series. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Becker, C. B., Smith, L. M., & Ciao, A. C. (2006). Peer-facilitated eating disorder prevention: A randomized effectiveness trial of cognitive dissonance and media advocacy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53(4), 550. DOI:10.1037/0022-0167.53.4.550

Bell, B. T., & Dittmar, H. (2011). Does media type matter? The role of identification in adolescent girls’ media consumption and the impact of different thin-ideal media on body image. Sex Roles, 65, 478–490. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9964-x

Bergeron, D., & Tylka, T. L. (2007). Support for the uniqueness of body dissatisfaction from drive for muscularity among men. Body Image, 4(3), 288-295. //dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2007.05.002

Blond, A. (2008). Impacts of exposure to images of ideal bodies on male body dissatisfaction: A review. Body Image, 5(3), 244-250. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2008.02.003

Botta, R. A. (2003). For your health? The relationship between magazine reading and adolescents' body image and eating disturbances. Sex Roles, 48(9-10), 389-399. DOI:10.1023/A:1023570326812

Brown, Z., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). Attractive celebrity and peer images on Instagram: Effect on women's mood and body image. Body Image, 19, 37-43. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.08.007

Buote, V. M., Wilson, A. E., Strahan, E. J., Gazzola, S. B., & Papps, F. (2011). Setting the bar: Divergent sociocultural norms for women's and men's ideal appearance in real-world contexts. Body Image, 8(4), 322-334. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.06.002

Cafri, G., & Thompson, J. K. (2004). Measuring male body image: A review of the current methodology. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 5(1), 18-29. DOI:10.1037/1524-9220.5.1.18

Cafri, G., Thompson, J. K., Ricciardelli, L., McCabe, M., Smolak, L., & Yesalis, C. (2005). Pursuit of the muscular ideal: Physical and psychological consequences and putative risk factors. Clinical Psychology Review, 25(2), 215-239. DOI:10.1016/j.cpr.2004.09.003

Cash T. F. (2000). The MBSRQ Users' Manual (3rd edition). Norfolk, Virginia. USA: Old Dominion University.

Cash, T. F., Fleming, E. C., Alindogan, J., Steadman, L., & Whitehead, A. (2002). Beyond body image as a trait: The development and validation of the Body Image States Scale. Eating Disorders, 10(2), 103-113. DOI:10.1080/10640260290081678

Cash, T. F., Morrow, J. A., Hrabosky, J. I., & Perry, A. A. (2004). How has body image changed? A cross-sectional investigation of college women and men from 1983 to 2001. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(6), 1081-1089. DOI:10.1037/0022-006X.72.6.1081

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2008). Youth risk behavior surveillance. United States, 2007, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 57, SS-4.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. Hillsdale. NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

Daniel, S., & Bridges, S. K. (2013). The relationships among body image, masculinity, and sexual satisfaction in men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(4), 345-351. DOI:10.1037/a0029154

Daniel, S., & Bridges, S. K. (2010). The drive for muscularity in men: Media influences and objectification theory. Body Image, 7, 32-38. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.08.003

Davison, T. E., & McCabe, M. P. (2005). Relationships between men’s and women’s body image and their psychological, social, and sexual functioning. Sex Roles, 52(7-8), 463-475. DOI:10.1007/s11199-005-3712-z

Desreumaux, G. (2014). The complete history of Instagram. Viitattu, 17, 2017.

Dorian, L. & Garfinkel, P.E. (2002). Culture and body image in Western society. Eating and Weight Disorders: Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 7(1), 1-19.

Ellison, N. B., Heino, R. D., & Gibbs, J. L (2006). Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11 (2). DOI:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.00020.x

Fardouly, J., & Vartanian, L. R. (2015). Negative comparisons about one's appearance mediate the relationship between Facebook usage and body image concerns. Body Image, 12, 82-88. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.10.004

Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7(2), 117-140.

Frederick, D. A., Buchanan, G. M., Sadehgi-Azar, L., Peplau, L. A., Haselton, M. G., Berezovskaya, A., & Lipinski, R. E. (2007). Desiring the muscular ideal: Men's body satisfaction in the United States, Ukraine, and Ghana. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 8(2), 103-117. DOI:10.1037/1524-9220.8.2.103

Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173-206. DOI:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

Gokee-LaRose, J., Dunn, M. E., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2004). An investigation of the cognitive organization of body comparison sites in relation to physical appearance related anxiety and drive for thinness. Eating Behaviors, 5(2), 133-145. DOI:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2004.01.003

Gray, J. J., & Ginsberg, R. L. (2007). Muscle Dissatisfaction: An Overview of Psychological and Cultural Research and Theory. In J.K. Thompson & G. Cafri (Eds.), The muscular ideal: Psychology, social, and medical perspectives (pp. 15-39): Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Butler, New York, NY.

Grogan, S., & Richards, H. (2002). Body image: Focus groups with boys and men. Men and Masculinities, 4(3), 219-232. DOI:10.1177/1097184X02004003001

Haferkamp, N., Eimler, S., Papadakis, A. M., & Kruck, J. (2012). Men are from Mars, women are from Venus? Examining gender differences in self-presentation on social networking sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and

Social Networking, 15, 91-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2011.0151

Haferkamp, N., & Krämer, N. C. (2011). Social comparison 2.0: Examining the effects of online profiles on social-networking sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 309-314. DOI:10.1089/cyber.2010.0120

Hargreaves, D. A., & Tiggemann, M. (2004). Idealized media images and adolescent body image: Comparing boys and girls. Body Image, 1(4), 351-361. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2004.10.002

Hausenblas, H. A., Janelle, C. M., Gardner, R. E., & Hagan, A. L. (2003). Affective responses of high and low body satisfied men to viewing physique slides. Eating Disorders, 11(2), 101-113. DOI:10.1080/10640260390199299

Heinberg, L. J. (1996). Theories of body image disturbance: Perceptual, developmental, and sociocultural factors. Body image, eating disorders, and obesity: An integrative guide for assessment and treatment, Washington, DC, American Psychological Association.

Heinberg, L. J., & Thompson, J. K. (1995). Body image and televised images of thinness and attractiveness: A controlled laboratory investigation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 14(4), 325-338. DOI:10.1521/jscp.1995.14.4.325

Herbozo, S., & Thompson, J. K. (2010). The effects of ambiguous appearance-related feedback on body image, mood states, and intentions to use body change strategies in college women: An experimental study. Body Image, 7(4), 327-334.

Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body Image, 17, 100-110. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.02.008

Humphreys, P., & Paxton, S. J. (2004). Impact of exposure to idealized male images on adolescent boys’ body image. Body Image, 1(3), 253-266. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2004.05.001

Instagram (2015). Celebrating a community of 400 million. Available at: https.instagram.com/press.

Irving, L. M., Wall, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Story, M. (2002). Steroid use among adolescents: findings from Project EAT. Journal of Adolescent Health, 30(4), 243-252. DOI:10.1016/S1054-139X(01)00414-1

Karazsia, B. T., Murnen, S. K., & Tylka, T. L. (2017). Is body dissatisfaction changing across time? A cross-temporal meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 143(3), 293. DOI:10.1037/bul0000081

Keery, H., Van den Berg, P., & Thompson, J. K. (2004). An evaluation of the Tripartite Influence Model of body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance with adolescent girls. Body Image, 1(3), 237-251. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2004.03.001

Labre, M. P. (2005a). The male body ideal: Perspectives of readers and non-readers of fitness magazines. The Journal of Men's Health & Gender, 2(2), 223-229. DOI:10.1016/j.jmhg.2005.03.001

Labre, M. P. (2005b). Burn fat, build muscle: A content analysis of Men's Health and Men's Fitness. International Journal of Men's Health, 4(2), 187. DOI:10.3149/jmh.0402.187

Law, C., & Labre, M. P. (2002). Cultural standards of attractiveness: A thirty-year look at changes in male images in magazines. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 79(3), 697-711.

Leit, R. A., Gray, J. J., & Pope, H. G. (2002). The media's representation of the ideal male body: A cause for muscle dysmorphia? International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31(3), 334-338. DOI:10.1002/eat.10019

Lyubomirsky, S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1995). Effects of self-focused rumination on negative thinking and interpersonal problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(1), 176-190. DOI:10.1037/0022-3514.69.1.176

Manago, A. M., Ward, L. M., Lemm, K. M. Reed, L., & Seabrook, R. (2015). Facebook involvement, objectified body consciousness, body shame, and sexual assertiveness in college women and men. Sex Roles, 72, 1-14. DOI:10.1007/s11199-014-0441-1

McCabe, M. P., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2004). Body image dissatisfaction among males across the lifespan: A review of past literature. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56(6), 675-685. DOI:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00129-6

McCreary, D. R., & Sasse, D. K. (2000). An exploration of the drive for muscularity in adolescent boys and girls. Journal of American College Health, 48(6), 297-304. DOI:10.1080/07448480009596271

Meier, E. P., & Gray, J. (2014). Facebook photo activity associated with body image disturbance in adolescent girls. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(4), 199-206. DOI:10.1089/cyber.2013.0305

Morrison, T. G., Morrison, M. A., & Hopkins, C. (2003). Striving for bodily perfection? An exploration of the drive for muscularity in Canadian men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4(2), 111-120. DOI:10.1037/1524-9220.4.2.111

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, 33(4), 269-279. DOI:10.1037/h0087148

Myers, T. A., & Crowther, J. H. (2009). Social comparison as a predictor of body dissatisfaction: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118(4), 683-698. DOI:10.1037/a0016763

Olivardia, R., Pope Jr, H. G., Borowiecki III, J. J., & Cohane, G. H. (2004). Biceps and body image: the relationship between muscularity and self-esteem, depression, and eating disorder symptoms. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 5(2), 112-120. DOI:10.1037/1524-9220.5.2.112

Olivardia, R., Pope Jr, H. G. & Hudson, J. (2000). Muscle dysmorphia in male weightlifters: A case-control study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 1291-1296. DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.8.1291

Parent, M. C., & Moradi, B. (2011). His biceps become him: A test of objectification theory's application to drive for muscularity and propensity for steroid use in college men. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(2), 246. DOI:10.1037/a0021398

Perloff, R. M. (2014). Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research, Sex Roles, 71, 363-377. DOI:10.1007/s11199-014-0384-6

Pew Research (2018). Social media use has grown dramatically (2018). Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact/

Pope Jr, H. G., Gruber, A. J., Choi, P., Olivardia, R., & Phillips, K. A. (1997). Muscle dysmorphia: An underrecognized form of body dysmorphic disorder. Psychosomatics, 38(6), 548-557. DOI:10.1016/S0033-3182(97)71400-2

Pope Jr, H. G., Gruber, A. J., Mangweth, B., Bureau, B., Decol, C., Jouvent, R., & Hudson, J. I. (2000). Body image perception among men in three countries. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(8), 1297-1301. DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.8.1297

Pope, H., Phillips, K. A., & Olivardia, R. (2000). The Adonis complex: The secret crisis of male body obsession. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Prichard, I., & Tiggemann, M. (2012). The effect of simultaneous exercise and exposure to thin-ideal music videos on women’s state self-objectification, mood and body satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(3-4), 201-210.

Posavac, H. D., Posavac, S. S. & Posavac, E. J. (1998). Exposure to media images of female attractiveness and concern with body weight among young women. Sex Roles, 34, 187-201. DOI:10.1023/A:1018729015490

Rohlinger, D. A. (2002). Eroticizing men: Cultural influences on advertising and male objectification. Sex Roles, 46(3-4), 61-74. DOI:10.1023/A:1016575909173

Schooler, D., & Ward, L. M. (2006). Average Joes: Men's relationships with media, real bodies, and sexuality. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7(1), 27-41. DOI:10.1037/1524-9220.7.1.27

Stice, E., Shaw, H., Burton, E., & Wade, E. (2006). Dissonance and healthy weight eating disorder prevention programs: a randomized efficacy trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(2), 263. DOI:10.1037/0022-006X.74.2.263

Stefanone, M.A., Lackaff, D., & Rosen, D. (2011). Contingencies of self-worth and social networking site behaviors. Cyberpsychology, Behaviors, and Social Networking, 14, 41-49. DOI:10.1089/cyber.2010.0049

Tantleff-Dunn, S., Barnes, R. D., & Larose, J. G. (2011). It's not just a “woman thing:” The current state of normative discontent. Eating Disorders, 19(5), 392-402.

Thompson, J. K. (1996). Body image, eating disorders and obesity: An integrative guide for assessment and treatment; Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Thompson, J., & Cafri, G. E. (2007). The muscular ideal: Psychological, social, and medical perspectives. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Tiggemann, M. (2011). Sociocultural perspectives on human appearance and body image. In T. Cash & Smolak (Eds.), Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention (pp 12-19). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tiggemann, M., & McGill, B. (2004). The role of social comparison in the effect of magazine advertisements on women's mood and body dissatisfaction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 23-44.

Tiggemann, M., & Miller, J. (2010). The Internet and adolescent girls’ weight satisfaction and drive for thinness. Sex Roles, (63), 79-90. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9789-z

Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2004). Thin ideals in music television: A source of social comparison and body dissatisfaction. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 35(1), 48-58. DOI:10.1002/eat.10214

Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2013). NetGirls: The Internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46(6), 630-633. DOI:10.1002/eat.22141

Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2014). NetTweens: The Internet and body image concerns in preteenage girls. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 34(5), 606-620. DOI:10.1177/0272431613501083

Tiggemann, M., & Zaccardo, M. (2015). “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women’s body image. Body Image, 15, 61-67.

Tylka, T. L. (2011). Refinement of the tripartite influence model for men: Dual body image pathways to body change behaviors. Body Image, 8(3), 199-207. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.04.008

Vaterlaus, J. M., Patten, E. V., Roche, C., & Young, J. A. (2015). # Gettinghealthy: The perceived influence of social media on young adult health behaviors. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 151-157. DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.013

van den Berg, P., Thompson, J. K., Obremski-Brandon, K., & Coovert, M. (2002). The Tripartite Influence model of body image and eating disturbance. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53(5), 1007-1020. DOI:10.1016/S0022-3999(02)00499-3

Vartanian, L. R., & Dey, S. (2013). Self-concept clarity, thin-ideal internalization, and appearance-related social comparison as predictors of body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 10(4), 495-500. DOI:10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.05.004

Wheeler, L., & Miyake, K. (1992). Social comparison in everyday life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(5), 760. DOI:10.1037/0022-3514.62.5.760


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business, and Graduate Studies.