A psychological comparison of females with anorexia nervosa and competitive male bodybuilders: body shape ideals in the extreme

A psychological comparison of females with anorexia nervosa and competitive male bodybuilders : body shape ideals in the extreme /  Caroline Davis, Lori Scott-Robertson. - (Eating Behaviors 1 (2000) 1 (September); p. 33-46)

  • PMID: 15001065
  • DOI: 10.1016/s1471-0153(00)00007-6


There is accumulating evidence that young men have become as concerned with their physical appearance as young women. However, different from women who want to achieve an ultra-slender body shape, most men want to increase their muscle mass and body size. Women with anorexia nervosa (AN) and competitive male bodybuilders are those who have taken the cultural standards of bodily perfection to the extreme, and both use unhealthy behaviours such as severe food restriction, excessive exercise, and steroids in pursuit of their goals. Findings of this study confirmed our prediction that the psychological profile of bodybuilders would be very similar to that found in women with AN. Both groups were significantly more obsessional, perfectionistic, anhedonic, and pathologically narcissistic than the general population. However, the bodybuilders reported very positive perceptions of their self-worth while the AN patients had very negative perceptions. Results are interpreted in the framework of a speculative developmental model of AN and bodybuilding, which focuses on the role of personality in the initiation and maintenance of excessive behaviours.


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15 January 2001
Davis, Caroline
Scott-Robertson, Lori
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York University, Toronto
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Psychiatric disorders
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Date generated
29 October 2020
Date of last modification
2 December 2021
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