Identifying Components of Drive for Muscularity and Leanness Associated With Core Body Image Disturbance: A Network Analysis

Katarina Prnjak, Eiko Fried, Jonathan Mond, Phillipa Hay, Kay Bussey, Scott Griffiths, Nora Trompeter, Alexandra Lonergan, Deborah Mitchison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Alongside thin ideals, internalizing muscular and/or lean body ideals is associated with eating disorder (ED) symptomatology, especially among males. However, assessment of drive for muscularity (DM) and drive for leanness (DL) also captures attitudes and behaviors that are normative in the general population. The aim of this study was to identify components of DM and DL that are independently linked to core body image disturbance in EDs—shape/weight dissatisfaction, overvaluation,and fear of weight gain—in community adolescents using network analysis. A representative sample of 4,975 Australian adolescents (53% females, Mage = 14.92) from Wave 1 of the EveryBODY study was included in the analyses. We estimated regularized and unregularized networks, identified communities of items, estimated bridge centrality between communities, and explored sex differences in network structure and connectivity with a Network Comparison Test. Results showed that items “feeling better about oneself if having a lean body” and “wishing to be muscular” had the highest bridge centralities, and network structures of male and females did not significantly differ. Importantly, some components of DM were negatively associated with body image disturbance. These findings suggest that, when investigating the role of DL and DM in EDs, it would be useful to further assess these constructs as multifaceted since relationships between these phenomena are likely more nuanced than previously speculated. Development and subsequent use of instruments for certain behaviors and/or attitudes more specifically associated with body image disturbance might be more informative than somewhat artificially confined focus on either thinness, leanness, or muscularity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2021


  • eating disorders
  • dissatisfaction
  • overvaluation
  • fear of weight gain
  • adolescence


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