Psychometric Properties of the Social Appearance Anxiety Scale Among Canadian Gay and Bisexual Men of Color

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Abstract

Gay and bisexual men (GBM) are an underexamined population in body image research, given the relatively high levels of body dissatisfaction reported among GBM compared with that of heterosexual men. However, distress related to appearance among GBM may not be exclusive to anxiety about having a perfect physique. The present study used the 16-item Social Appearance Anxiety Scale (SAAS; Hart, Flora, et al., 2008) in a racially diverse sample of 389 GBM of color to examine the psychometric properties of a measure of anxiety about being evaluated for one’s overall appearance. Similar to other studies of undergraduate students (e.g., Levinson & Rodebaugh, 2011; Levinson et al., 2013), the SAAS had a unifactorial structure and was highly internally consistent. Social appearance anxiety was highly correlated with anxiety and body image dissatisfaction. Social appearance anxiety had moderate to large correlations with other established measures of body image dissatisfaction and psychological distress. Racist experiences were associated with social appearance anxiety above and beyond correlations of social appearance anxiety with anxiety and body image dissatisfaction. The present study also extends beyond previous research on body image and anxiety among GBM by demonstrating the importance of minority stress-related variables that go beyond sexual orientation, such as racism experiences.

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