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Male body image across the life course: a mixed methods study

Malik, Mohammed Saqalain (2018) Male body image across the life course: a mixed methods study. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Though research on male body image has advanced significantly since the 1980s (Grogan, 2016), most contemporary research on male body image has included younger male samples, with little attention paid to the body image of middle-aged and older-aged men (Drummond, 2003; Leichty, Ribeiro, Svienson and Dahlstrom, 2014; McCabe and Ricciardelli, 2004; Slevin and Linneman, 2010). Accordingly, it has been difficult for researchers to draw conclusions about how male body image develops beyond the young adult phase (McCabe and Ricciardelli, 2004). Given that body dissatisfaction has been linked with adverse psychological and behavioural consequences (Grogan, 2016), it is imperative that knowledge regarding male body image across the lifespan is sought, and that age-appropriate interventions are developed for boys and men across different ages (if required). The overall aim of the current PhD was to gain insights into the way men think, feel and behave regarding their bodies at various points in their lives. To achieve this aim, the current study employed a range of data gathering methods, including in-depth interviews, online-questionnaires and focus groups. From an examination of the findings of the overall thesis, body image unawareness in preadolescence, awareness in adolescence, body appreciation across the lifespan and body function across the lifespan appeared to be the strongest themes across the different studies. Additionally, adolescence was established as the most vulnerable developmental stage for which a hypothetical positive body image promotion programme was also developed. A key strength of this PhD is that it generated important knowledge regarding the body image of middle-aged and older men, as well as provided a lifespan perspective of men’s body image which in the past has only extended as far as reporting the body image of young adult men.

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