Body image perception, satisfaction and somatotype in male and female athletes and non-athletes: results using a novel morphing technique

Arthur David Stewart, Philip John Benson, E. G. Michanikou, D. G. Tsiota, M. K. Narli

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty-six adults (24 males, 12 females) were assessed for anthropometric somatotype and body image (perception and satisfaction) by a novel technique using quantitative distortion of a digital still image. Software produced random distortions in nine body regions. The participants manipulated interactive slider controls to adjust each body feature in turn, recreate their perceived image and indicate their desired image. There were no differences in perception between the sexes. However, the ideal-actual differences (i.e. satisfaction) indicated that males desired larger and females smaller features, respectively, in the chest and thighs ( P <0.001) and arms and calves ( P <0.01). When the male-derived data were partitioned by sport (strength, endurance, team-sport and controls), differences were found in the perceived image size in the chest and rib regions ( P <0.01 and P <0.05, respectively). Strength athletes perceived these areas to be smaller and the control group perceived these areas to be larger than the true values. Somatotype analysis indicated that the physique associated with minimal dissatisfaction was 2.0-5.0-3.0 for males and 3.0-2.5-3.0 for females. Cluster analysis, combining anthropometric and satisfaction data, revealed seven distinct subgroups distinguished by particular attributes of physical appearance. We conclude that the method is reliable and that body image includes sex-specific, anthropometric, perceptual and personality-related components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-823
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • anthropometry
  • athletes
  • body image
  • perception
  • satisfaction

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