Social Perception of Bodybuilders

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Engaging in bodybuilding, especially by a woman, may have a pervasive influence on the impressions others have of the bodybuilder. The first experiment examined the effects of the label bodybuilder on subjects' ratings of the probability that the stimulus person possessed gender-related characteristics. The second experiment was designed to determine whether female bodybuilders, compared to attractive and unattractive female nonbodybuilders, are (a) assumed to possess less socially desirable personality traits, (b) expected to lead less successful lives, and (c) viewed as less physically attractive. Results indicate that bodybuilding information plays a dominant role in influencing judgments. Stimulus persons who engage in bodybuilding are judged to be more likely to perform masculine role behaviors and less likely to be employed in feminine occupations, irrespective of gender. Female bodybuilders are viewed as relatively unattractive and are attributed with less desirable personality traits than are attractive female nonbodybuilders. The significance of these findings in understanding the perpetuation of stereotypes is discussed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Harvey R. Freeman, Department of Psychology, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH 43015.

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