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18-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2020

Muscle Dysmorphia in Adolescence: The Role of Parental Psychological Control on a Potential Behavioral Addiction

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2020
Ugo Pace, Giulio D’Urso, Alessia Passanisi, Sonia Mangialavori, Marco Cacioppo, Carla Zappulla
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The study investigated the relationship between psychological parental control and muscle dysmorphia in adolescence, as form of exercise dependence, focusing also on the role of pathological worry.


Participants were 312 adolescents (140 boys and 172 girls) aged 16 to 18 years (M = 17.05; SD = 0.85) and completed the Muscle Dysmorphia Disorder Inventory, the Dependency-oriented and Achievement-oriented Parental Psychological Control, and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire.


The results highlighted that boys showed higher level than girls in dependency-oriented and achievement-oriented parental psychological control and muscle dysmorphia. Furthermore, girls showed higher levels of pathological worry than boys. Pathological worry partially mediated the relationship between dependency-oriented parental psychological control and muscle dysmorphia as well as between achievement-oriented parental psychological and muscle dysmorphia. Psychological parental control predicted muscle dysmorphia, and pathological worry seemed to act as a partial mediator in this relationship.


Psychology parental control and pathological worry are linked to muscle dysmorphia, but psychological parental control seems to frustrate the need for autonomy of adolescents and, therefore, muscle dysmorphia may become the maladaptive answer to react to the excessive control of their parents. It seems that body of adolescents may become the scenario towards which they play a sort of power of control to counteract anxiety deriving from the excessive psychological control played by parents.

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