Comparison of Body Image between Athletes and Nonathletes: A Meta-Analytic Review

Heather A. Hausenblas, Danielle Symons Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Due to the equivocal research examining body image between athletes and nonathletes and the serious negative effects of body image disturbance a meta-analytic review of the literature was undertaken (N = 78 studies, 294 effect sizes). A small effect was found which indicated that athletes had a more positive body image compared to the nonathletes. Examination of the moderator variables revealed that the magnitude of the effect size: (a) for unpublished research was larger compared to published research; (b) for comparison groups which were included within the study was smaller than for comparison groups based on normative data; (c) did not differ between the female athletes compared to the male athletes; (d) did not vary among the aesthetic, endurance, and ball game sport athletes; and (e) did not differ by age or body mass index. Possible explanations for the more positive body image of the athletes than the nonathletes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-339
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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