Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Comic book bodies are supernormal stimuli that cater to the unrealistic sexual imagination of a predominantly male audience

Burch, R. L., & Widman, D. R. (2021). Comic book bodies are supernormal stimuli: Comparison of DC, Marvel, and actual humans. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, Nov 2021. https://doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000280

Abstract: This study expanded upon Burch and Johnsen’s (2020) work on exaggerated bodies in Marvel comic book characters by also examining DC characters and actual humans. Compared to Marvel, DC men were not significantly taller but were significantly thinner and had significantly smaller shoulder to waist ratios. DC women were almost identical to Marvel women in height and weight, but DC women had smaller waist to hip ratios, making them curvier. Comic book bodies were then compared to actual humans; champion male bodybuilders, most frequently searched women on 1 of the most popular pornography websites, and a nationally representative U.S. sample. DC men had shoulder to waist ratios on par with champion bodybuilders while Marvel exceeded them. Both DC and Marvel women had lower waist to hip ratios than the Internet pornography sample. The average U.S. woman’s WHR was similar to the maximum WHR for the comic book and pornography sample, and the minimum U.S. woman’s WHR was similar to the average WHR for those samples. These findings support Burch and Johnsen (2020) and provide a better picture of how comic book depictions are hypersexualized supernormal stimuli.

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