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Can Batman Boost Your Self-Esteem?

Study Says Superheroes Can Boost Self-Esteem
Uriel Sinai, Getty Images

There’s no denying that superheroes are cool, but we never thought they could actually be good for self-esteem. In fact, a new study says that identifying with musclebound crime fighters can help promote a positive body image in men. (We’ll never laugh at Toronto Batman or Warsaw Spider-Man again.)

According to the study, men who said they felt a bond with Batman or Spider-Man felt good about their own bodies after seeing pictures of the superheroes. Amazingly, some of these men even experienced increased strength on a handgrip test. In contrast, men who had no strong feelings about superheroes said they felt worse about themselves after viewing the pictures.

“For some men, exposure to extremely muscular superheroes may actually have a positive effect. It may make them feel better about their bodies,” said researcher Ariana Young.

So what’s the cause? Sharon Lamb, a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said that males may be identifying with superheroes as someone worth emulating.

“I think the study shows that boys and men need role models who are whole people, and if they get those kinds of role models, they feel better about themselves, their vulnerabilities and their bodies,” said Lamb.

In other words, a superhero like the Caped Crusader is indisputably cool, even when he sounds like Cookie Monster.

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