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Researchers disagree on which types of anxiety influence body dissatisfaction and how gender (cisgender men vs. cisgender women) may impact these associations. Specifically, little is known about how generalized anxiety and social physique anxiety combine to predict body dissatisfaction in men and women. The purpose of the present study was to explore a moderated mediation model in which the relationships between generalized anxiety and body dissatisfaction (drive for thinness and drive for muscularity) were mediated by social physique anxiety and moderated by gender. Data from 423 U.S. college students (n = 259 women) were analyzed using multigroup structural equation modeling. Generalized anxiety was positively associated with social physique anxiety, and this association was significantly stronger for men than for women. Neither social physique anxiety nor generalized anxiety were associated with drive for muscularity. Social physique anxiety was positively and significantly associated with drive for thinness equally for men and women and emerged as a significant mediator. These results highlight gender differences/similarities in body image and suggest drive for thinness and social physique anxiety may have a common factor of generalized anxiety. When helping clients who suffer with body dissatisfaction, clinicians and researchers may wish to focus on generalized anxiety (and not just social physique anxiety).

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. © 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International license. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Body Image,