WOMEN
04/29/2013 07:00 pm ET

Male Body Image: Body Surveillance Affects Men's Relationship Hopes, Study Finds

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Men who are critical of their bodies are less likely to be hopeful about finding a relationship, a new study claims.

Psychology researchers at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln asked college-aged men to participate in a study looking at the relationship between body surveillance -- looking at one's body as a sexual object and focusing more on how it looks than what it feels -- and how hopeful they are about relationships.

Two hundred and twenty-seven participants completed a series of surveys including the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale, which measures how much an individual objectifies his or her body and what level of body shame he or she might experience, and the Adult Trait Hope Scale, which measures how someone sets and attains goals.

Results showed that the more a participant surveyed and judged his own body, the higher his level of body shame was. In turn, men with higher body shame were less likely to be hopeful about entering into social and romantic relationships.

The effects of self-objectification and poor body image have been widely examined in women. Women who objectify their own bodies are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder and internalize media messages about "good" and "bad" bodies. Some researchers have explored how female body image interacts with romantic relationships -- one study found that being in a relationship increased women's body image concerns, and another found that women with poor body image often see themselves in a different way than their partners do.

This recent Nebraska study is part of a smaller research field focusing entirely on male body image. Previous research has indicated that men who objectify themselves are more likely to over-exercise and abuse steroids, feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and suffer from depression. Men also face a stigma when seeking treatment for an eating disorder, despite the rising number of male sufferers.

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