An exploratory study of the role of family, friends, and partners in the body image development of college-age sexual minority males

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Lewis Bozard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
J. Scott Young

Abstract: Male body image has gained increasing attention among counselors and researchers within the past decade in light of the growing percentage of men reporting dissatisfaction with their bodies. For example, Garner (1997) found that male body dissatisfaction increased by 187% at the end of the 20th century, from 15% in 1972 to 43% in 1997. Sexual minority (bisexual and gay) males are believed to be at greater risk for body image disturbance and related conditions such as disordered eating and steroid use than straight males (Boroughs & Thompson, 2002; Chaney, 2008; Copeland, & Peters, 1999; Drummond, 2005a; Feldman & Meyer, 2007; Harvey & Robinson, 2003; Morgan & Arcelus, 2009; Soban, 2006; Wiseman & Moradi, 2010). Researchers have produced evidence that sociocultural influences impact male body image development (Barlett, Vowels, & Saucier, 2008; Duggan & McCreary, 2004; Pope, Phillips, & Olivardia, 2000; Ryan & Morrison, 2009). Empirical investigation of sociocultural factors has focused primarily on the effects of media despite the fact that Cash (2002) identified interpersonal experiences as a primary factor in body image formation. Evidence exists that experiences with family members, friends, and intimate partners likely impact the body image development of males (Ambwani & Strauss, 2007; Boroughs & Thompson, 2002; Bottamini & Ste-Marie, 2006; Carlin, 2008; Drummond, 2005a; Fawkner, 2004; Galli & Reel, 2009; Harvey & Robinson, 2003; Morgan & Arcelus, 2009; Ryan & Morrison, 2009; Sira & Parker White, 2010; Soban, 2006), yet the extant data consist of fragmented findings from primarily heterosexual samples. Morgan and Arcelus (2009) further noted that " men experienced a social and media environment more toxic towards body image..." than straight males (p. 41). To address this gap in the literature, the purpose of the study was to explore the role of experiences involving family, friends, and partners in the body image development of sexual minority males in a college-age sample. Data from the current study were analyzed using Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology. CQR is an iterative process in which a research team analyzes the data through a multi-step process to reach consensus regarding findings. Data from participant interviews (N=8) were coded into domains and core ideas, analyzed across all eight cases, then further organized into categories. Analysis of the data produced five categories that were labeled as general, or applicable to seven or eight participants; 17 categories that were labeled as typical, or applicable to five or six participants; and 100 categories that were labeled as variant, or applicable to two to four participants. Partners, family, and friends were all found to play influential roles in body development, with partners most significant and friends least significant. Implications for counselors and counselor educators, as well as suggestions for future research, are provided.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Bisexual, Body image, College, Gay, LGBT, Male
Body image in men $z United States $v Case Studies
Gay men $x Psychology $v Case studies
Bisexual men $x Psychology $v Case studies

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