Can image labels be used to reduce the impact of the muscular ideal in men?

Exposure to idealized media imagery has the potential to produce body dissatisfaction in men. The use of labels noting the unrealistic nature of idealized imagery has generally been unsuccessful for women. This is the first study to test whether information labels can be used successfully for men. Adult men (N = 154) were exposed to either active or posed idealized imagery containing an information label pointing to the high levels of exercise required to achieve the muscularity of the model or the same images without labels. Men completed pre- and posttest measures of appearance satisfaction and body functionality satisfaction and posttest ratings in comparison with the images. Results showed that the effects of the labels depended on the style of image and level of social comparison. Labels could simultaneously have positive benefits (to muscle satisfaction and attractiveness), no effects (to fitness and upper-body satisfaction), and harmful effects (to size and shape satisfaction, strength satisfaction, and attractiveness). Men’s response to labels may be less straightforward than the relationships observed in women. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)