Critique of a Study; Muscle Dysmorphia - excellent paper

Critique of a Study; Muscle Dysmorphia - excellent paper

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     Last year a study was performed to examine a model for the development of muscle dysmorhpia among male college athletes. The model is known as the Lantz, Rhea, and Mayhew Model and it describes the relationship between pre-disposing factors for the development of muscle dysmorphia and the negative consequences paired with the disorder. The study concentrated on male college athletes falling into three different categories: weight lifters, non-contact sports athletes, and contact sport athletes. The study was to determine which of the expected negative behaviors, if any, prevailed among the separate categories.
     Over the past decades the media has been the primary blame of creating body image disorders among both females and males.
“Similar to females, men have been inundated with distorted pictures representing the ideal male physique from TV, fitness magazines, and the toy industry (e.g., bulging superhero, G. I. Joe). While most researchers suggest that a multitude of factors may play a role in creating body image disorders (Pike & Striegel-Moore, 1997), Levine and Smolak (1998) are among a growing number of researchers who blame the media's glamorized body blueprint messages for men and women unrealistically judging themselves. (Page 120)”

Men with body image disorders are usually afraid of being too small rather than too large. They tend to have the desire to gain muscle mass at the same time as cutting down the waist line. Along with this desire, an obsession can occur to compulsively lift weights as a way of life. The compulsive weight lifting and consumption of dietary supplements describes the term “muscle dysmorphia”. This disorder is more mental than physical and may also be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“In a manner similar to MD, OCD is manifested by obsessions (e.g., constant thoughts about being too small) and compulsions (e.g., repeated behaviors of weight-lifting). (Page 120)”

Muscle dysmorphia can also create other mental disorders. It may actually be genetically impossible for some to reach their ideal body. This creates an individual who obsesses over a goal which is non-existent, creating possible depression and perhaps impairing social and occupational functioning.
The model of muscle dysmorphia has yet to be tested and this study is to determine if the psycho-behavioral characteristics proposed by the model are present, and to what degree, in the selected weight lifters compared to other athletes. A sample student body of 106 students was selected as the participants. This group contained 29 weight lifters, 24 non-contact sport athletes, and 53 contact sport athletes.

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The procedures were as followed:
“Participants agreed to complete two self-report measures, the first a brief survey including questions on steroid use, nutritional supplement use & frequency, exercise regimen frequency, intensity and duration, concerns about body symmetry, physique protection behaviors, and concerns about body size or weight. The second measure was the modified Messer & Harter (1985) Adult Self-Perception Scale (ASPS). The modified ASPS questionnaire contains sub-scales including: global self-worth, obsessive-compulsive behavior, athletic ability, intimate relationships, sociability, physical appearance, depression, perfectionism, and intelligence. The surveys were administered in relatively small groups of 20 - 30. (Page 122)”

The weight lifting category did reveal significant differences in behaviors compared to the other athletes. Weight lifters reported much higher in the field of diet and supplement use than did the other athletes. They were also more apt to constantly check their weight and body size. No differences were shown between the groups for the use of steroids or worrying about weight loss. There was no clear data in the study that showed that weight lifters prevailed in the pre-disposing factors that were proposed by the model. The predictions of the expected behaviors performed by weight lifters were not found in the study making the study somewhat of a failure. There were simple differences found between the groups of participants, but none that could help prove the model.
There are obviously many ways to critique this study since it was unsuccessful. The critique could start with the participants. The study consisted of only 106 participants, which is difficult to assess significant data of an entire category of athletes on such a small portion of the group. Of these 106 participants, only 29 were weight lifters, with weight lifters being the primary focus. The remaining participants were divided between 24 non-contact sport athletes and 53 contact sport athletes. It would be assumed that if a study took place focusing on weight lifters, that the majority of the participants would be weight lifters not contact sport athletes. If another study took place this is one thing that should be thought about changing. Perhaps gathering 106 participants who are weight lifters and comparing them to the same number of participants who fall under the remaining categories would be considered.
Another criticism of the study is the subject background. The age and area an individual lives in usually has a great impact on the way they think of themselves and how they act. These samples were all college students who were on varsity athletic teams and sports clubs at a northeastern university. Some of the pre-disposing factors proposed by the Lantz, Rhea, and Mayhew Model may not apply to the selected subjects. Factors such as low self-esteem and pharmacological abuse would most likely not be a factor with varsity athletes. If an athlete has made his way to become a varsity level competitor, his self-esteem would most likely be very high. Reaching this level of athletics is quite an accomplishment and most athletes are very aware of that. Things such as pharmacological abuse and supplements are usually monitored very closely in college athletics. In many cases pharmacological abuse violates the rules and the athlete would be subject to suspension.
The procedure of the study can also be easily criticized. The study consisted of two self-report measures. The first was a brief survey completed by the participants. Participants are by no means obligated to answer all of the questions truthfully. Some participants may not be answering truthfully, which would add a margin of error into the study.
Considering these criticisms, changes should be made in case of another study. It is definite that more research needs to be done to help prove the model. Without more valid research providing explicit significant results, the model of muscle dysmorphia is nothing more than an idea. Using the results found in this study may also encourage changes within the model, perhaps making it more general until the specifics can be proven.

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