Exploring men's body image concerns and predisposing factors for muscle dysmorphia in the framework of Self-Determination Theory

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018




This dissertation aimed to provide a deeper understanding of body image concerns of males and to enlighten the underlying mechanism of muscle dysmorphia. In line with this aim, three studies were designed. In the first study, body image concerns were compared across genders, and the predictive effects of basic psychological needs on these concerns were investigated. The results revealed that although there was no gender difference in terms of body image concerns, there was a gender difference in terms of the manifestation of these concerns. Besides, significant effects of basic needs on these concerns were found. In the second study, semi-structured interviews were carried out with six males engaging in regular bodybuilding activities to understand their motivation for these activities. According to the results, with the aim of compensating for inferiority feelings, men engaged in bodybuilding activities, these activities resulted in muscle-contingent self-worth and positive or negative emotions, which forced men to think that they should constantly improve their muscles. In the last study, the predictors of muscle dysmorphia and life satisfaction were examined based on Basic Psychological Needs Theory. The findings indicated that frustrated basic needs are predisposing factors of muscle dysmorphia. Additionally, the significant associations of life satisfaction with basic needs were found. Overall, the findings suggested that (1) males experience a similar level body image concerns with females but their concerns are more related to their muscles, (2) trying to compensate inferiority feelings and unsatisfied basic needs through having a muscular body may lead to muscle dysmorphia.