Exposure and Gender Effects in the Social Perception of Women Bodybuilders

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Brigham Young University
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A 3 x 4 factorial design was used to test the affects of gender, frequency of exposure, and magnitude of exposure on subjects' ratings of women bodybuilders. Dependent variables were subjects' ratings of the bodybuilders' femininity, physical attractiveness, dominance, and aggressiveness. Subjects were 76 introductory psychology students (45 female, 31 male) at a large Utah university who completed a 10-item rating scale after viewing 20 color slides of some of the world's leading women bodybuilders. A multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) showed that males rated the women bodybuilders as more attractive than did females (p < .05) and that the longer they had been exposed to women bodybuilders, the higher were their attractiveness ratings for women bodybuilders (p < .05). Gender-frequency of exposure interaction effects were also statistically significant (p < .05). Males with low frequency of exposure rated the women bodybuilders as less dominant than did low-frequency females. However, high frequency-of-exposure males rated the women bodybuilders as more dominant than did high-frequency females. The study concludes with a discussion of the mere exposure hypothesis and status quo effects in an attempt to explain the results.

The author thanks Steve Wennerstrom for his invaluable assistance in this investigation.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Loren Franck, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.

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