Author Information

Zeely Sylvia


Popular media has long been cited as a negative influence on body image and self-esteem by perpetuating unrealistic ideals of the human body. However, the influence of video games has remained largely unexamined despite their growing popularity as a media form, particularly among men. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether playing video games that emphasize an unrealistic male body ideal has a negative impact on male body image. Male participants were randomly assigned to play a highly realistic video game with either a muscular character or a character of average build. Men in the muscular condition reported significantly more negative attitudes about their body (body esteem) and greater attention to muscularity than men in the control condition. Considering the wide-spread use of video games, as well as the increasing muscularity of the ideal male body in popular culture, this finding could have important implications for the psychological well-being of male gamers who are regularly exposed to unrealistic body ideals in video games.

Note on the Author

Zeely Sylvia received her undergraduate degree from Bridgewater State in January 2013, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a major in Psychology. This research was funded by the ATP Summer Grant Program over the Summer of 2012. The project originated from her time working in the Psychology Department’s Body Image Research Lab under the direction of Dr. Teresa King and Dr. Brendan Morse. It was presented at the BSU Summer Symposium in August of 2012, and more recently at the Eastern Psychological Association Convention in New York City in March of 2013.

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