The Effects of a Social-Evaluative Body Image Threat on Shame, Social Physique Anxiety, Body Dissatisfaction and Cortisol Responses in University Men
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Men struggle with body image concerns particularly related to the desire to be muscular. In women, social-evaluative body image threats have been linked to increased shame and cortisol responses, consistent with social self-preservation theory (SSPT), but no research has investigated these responses in men. Men (n = 66) were randomly assigned to either a social-evaluative threat (SET) or non-social-evaluative threat (N-SET) condition. Participants provided saliva samples and completed body shame, body dissatisfaction and social physique anxiety measures prior to and following their condition, during which anthropometric and strength measures were assessed. Results indicated men in the SET condition had higher body shame, social physique anxiety, and body dissatisfaction and had higher levels of cortisol than men in the N-SET condition post-social-evaluative threat. These findings, consistent with SSPT, suggest that social-evaluative body image threats may lead to increased body shame and social physique anxiety, greater body dissatisfaction and higher cortisol levels.