Award Date

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Cortney S. Warren

Second Committee Member

Mark H. Ashcraft

Third Committee Member

Kimberly A. Barchard

Fourth Committee Member

Marta Meana

Fifth Committee Member

Gary W. Larson

Number of Pages



Historically, researchers conceptualized eating disorders, subclinical eating pathology, and negative body image as issues that only affected women. However, more recent research suggests that men experience significant body image concerns that mirror current Western cultural ideals of appearance (i.e., desire to attain a lean, muscular physique with very little body fat). Theoretically, men with a strong desire to achieve this cultural ideal (i.e., drive for muscularity) may experience dissatisfaction with their appearance (i.e., muscle dysmorphia), unpleasant psychological states (e.g., social physique anxiety), and engage in potentially harmful behaviors related to eating pathology (e.g., body checking) that lead to clinical impairment (e.g., decreased social or occupational functioning). To build on our understanding of eating pathology in men, the primary aim of this study was to explore and test the relationships among drive for muscularity, muscle dysmorphia, social physique anxiety, body checking, global eating pathology, and clinical impairment in a sample of nonclinical college men (N = 343). Testing and comparing the fit of three hypothesized models describing these relationships indicated that one hypothesized model fit the data very well. In this model, higher levels of muscle dysmorphia predicted higher levels of drive for muscularity, social physique anxiety, and clinical impairment; higher levels of social physique anxiety predicted higher levels of drive for muscularity and clinical impairment; higher levels of drive for muscularity predicted higher levels of body checking; and higher levels of body checking predicted higher levels of clinical impairment. These findings improve our understanding of the attitudinal and behavioral correlates of social physique anxiety, eating pathology, and body image in nonclinical men. Consistent with the psycho-behavioral model of muscle dysmorphia (Lantz, Rhea, & Mayhew, 2001), body dissatisfaction (e.g., drive for muscularity) was associated with muscle dysmorphia and behavioral physique concerns (e.g., body checking), and these aforementioned constructs were associated with negative consequences (e.g. clinical impairment). However, eating pathology was less salient to these relationships than predicted.

In addition to these core findings, an ancillary aim of this study was to examine the factor structure, mean scores, and measurement invariance of a modified version of the Social Physique Anxiety Scale (MSPAS) with subtle wording changes that I hypothesized may be more palatable to men and have a less feminine connotation (i.e., changing "physique or figure" to "body or build"). Results indicated that the MSPAS and SPAS were configurally invariant (best captured by 7-item, 1-factor structure). Mean scores did not differ between the measures. Although the MSPAS and SPAS did not demonstrate full measurement invariance, results suggest that both questionnaires conceptualize and measure the underlying construct of social physique anxiety in the same way. Results provide preliminary support that sex-specific wording may not be necessary to measure social physique anxiety in men. However, results raised concerns with the SPAS/MSPAS: The measures are very brief, have low internal consistency, questionable face validity, and may not adequately address all aspects of social physique anxiety. Researchers should substantially revise items or develop an alternate questionnaire to improve the measurement of social physique anxiety.


body checking; clinical impairment; eating pathology; men; muscle dysmorphia; social physique anxiety


Clinical Psychology | Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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