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Media research has found that brief exposure to idealized images can negatively affect men’s body satisfaction. However, there has been little variation in the types of images previously used in research. This study aimed to test the predictions of body conceptualization theory by comparing the effects of idealized images that focus on aesthetic (body-as-object; BAO) or functional (body-as-process; BAP) dimensions. It was expected that BAO images would have greater negative effects than BAP or neutral images. Men (N = 125) were randomly assigned to view images representing BAP, BAO, or scenery. They completed pre- and multiple posttest measures of state mood and body satisfaction as well as trait measures of body image. The results showed that exposure to the BAP images resulted in lower levels of fitness and overall appearance satisfaction than the other conditions, with the differences in fitness satisfaction sustaining 5 min postexposure. Furthermore, of the trait measures, fitness orientation and drive for muscularity emerged as important predictors in the BAP condition. These results suggest that men may find images of male models engaged in sports more natural or desirable than posed models, which in turn elicits greater negative self-evaluations. In addition, investment in fitness may serve as a protective factor against negative media effects.

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Journal Article

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