Towards a conceptual understanding of muscle dysmorphia development and sustainment

David Adrian Tod, David Edmond Lavallee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)


In recent years muscle dysmorphia has attracted the interests of sport, exercise, and clinical psychologists, researchers, and the popular media. In this article we review muscle dysmorphia literature and propose a framework to advance knowledge about the condition's development and sustainment. Existing research is focused on social variables correlated with muscle dysmorphia (e.g., social support), and cognitions, emotions, and behaviours displayed by individuals with the condition (e.g., exercise dependence and steroid abuse). The proposed framework draws on the extant body image and body dysmorphic disorder literature to address gaps identified in current muscle dysmorphia knowledge. In particular, little attention has been given to mechanisms by which the condition develops and is sustained, and learning theory is proposed as one possibility. In addition to extending muscle dysmorphia knowledge, the framework is offered as a way to stimulate a range of investigations adding to current understanding. The inclusion of learning theory, for example, may provide insights leading to the identification of suitable treatments for people whose health and well-being has been reduced as a result of experiencing muscle dysmorphia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-131
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2010


  • muscle dysmorphia
  • muscularity
  • body image
  • body dysmorphic disorder


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