30 Superheroes can make you stronger!

Based on Reasearch by Ariana F. Young, Ph.D.. Psychology Science Minute written by Kyle Piecora, M.S.

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Tech, I’m Kyle Piecora.

Have you found it difficult these days to go to the cinema, channel surf, or drive down the street without seeing an image of a vigilante in spandex fighting off alien hoards?  Scientists have asked whether or not these superheroes’ muscular physiques are affecting “male body image” or how satisfied male fans are with their own bodies.

Psychologist Dr. Ariana Young demonstrated in a research study that when men see an unfamiliar muscular superhero, they reported feeling more dissatisfied with their bodies, their strength and physical condition.  However, when they viewed a muscle-bound superhero with which they were familiar, especially one they liked, they expressed satisfaction with their own bodies.  Further, viewing these familiar muscle-bound superheroes appears to make men actually stronger as they showed increased physical strength in squeezing a handheld dynamometer as hard as they could.  Their heroes may inspire them, thus increasing their levels of adrenaline and desire to show their strength.  Conclusion:  watching and admiring favorite superheroes  with unachievable body types can give men both psychological and physical benefits.

There you have it guys.  Watching the upcoming Superman movie may just make you that much stronger!  Just don’t try to fly!

That’s your Florida Institute of Technology Psychology Science Minute, I’m Kyle Piecora.


Young, F. Y., Gabriel, S., & Hollar, J. L.  (2012).  Batman to the rescue!  The protective effects of parasocial relationships with muscular superheroes on men’s body image.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.08.003. Available online 13 August 2012  In Press, Accepted Manuscript

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