Preadolescent boys’ investment in masculine gender norms and their use of body change strategies

  • M. McCabe
  • G. Tatangelo
  • C. Connaughton

Abstract

Background: It appears that young boys’ body ideals may be similar to the gendered body ideals found among adolescent boys and men. A developmental psychology framework was used to understand the factors related to masculine gender norms. It was predicted that gender norms would be associated with the use of body change strategies, body esteem and muscle esteem. Further, it was predicted that gender norms would moderate the association between sociocultural influences and body image outcomes. Methods: Participants were 321 boys aged 7 to 11 years in Melbourne, Australia. The boys completed questionnaire measures of investment in masculine physical ideals, body change strategies to lose weight and/or gain muscles, body esteem, muscular esteem and sociocultural influences (peers, parents, media). Hierarchical multiple analysis was used to analyse the results. Findings: The results indicated that boys are invested in masculine physical ideals of strength and athleticism. Investment in these masculine ideals predicted boys’ use of body change strategies to lose weight and gain muscles. In addition, investment in masculine gender norms moderated the relationship between pressure from peers and boys’ use of body change strategies. This was particularly apparent for boys with a high level of investment in gender norm. Discussion: The findings highlight the importance of gender norms in shaping boys’ body change strategies at a young age. They also identify several avenues for further research, including the ways in which boys may feel pressure to display gender congruent characteristics and how this is related to their development.
Published
2017-12-31
Section
Oral presentations