The Effects of Religious-Body Affirmations and Religious Commitment on Men's Body Esteem

Document Type


Publication Date



Using a self-affirmation framework, this study tested whether religion buffered harmful media threats to men's body esteem. It tested whether reading religious body-affirming statements or having a strong religious commitment protected men's body esteem from media threats. It also tested whether religious commitment moderated the harmful media effects in the most threatened group (overweight men). Fifty-six men at a religious-affiliated college completed the religious commitment scale, demographic information, and body-esteem measures. Weeks later, they were randomly assigned to read either religious body-affirming statements, positive body-affirming statements, or control statements, after which they indicated their feelings, viewed lean muscular models, and answered body-esteem measures again. Results showed reading religious body-affirmations had no effect on changes in men's body esteem. Religious commitment was positively related body esteem at Time 1 but not at Time 2, when media threats were present. In addition, as predicted, viewing muscular models was most threatening to heavy men, but religious commitment buffered this threat. Religiously committed overweight men were happier with their weight than less religiously committed overweight men, due in part to the former's positive emotions. Results are discussed in relation to processing religious messages and self-affirmation processes.