Apparently, reading Batman and Spider-Man comics can make you stronger—but only if you have a “parasocial relationship” with your favourite heroes, according to a recent University of Buffalo study. As Canada.com reports, “Roughly 100 young men had their affinity for Batman and Spider-Man separately assessed by researchers to determine the strength of their parasocial relationship (science-speak for unreciprocated or one-sided fandom) with the respective characters.” I guess that Batman doesn’t love you back, no matter how many of his action figures you collect, is what they’re saying.
That said, the web-slinger and the caped crusader do improve male body image amongst their die-hard readers, as researchers discovered. After being shown either muscular or scrawny Bat- and Spider-men, both fans and non-fans were asked to rate their “satisfaction with their biceps, chest, overall fitness and other physical traits.” The ones who don’t read comics felt inferior afterwards, but, according to Canada.com, “when men were fans of the muscular figure – whether it was Batman or Spider-Man – it not only eliminated this negative effect, it also led them to demonstrate greater grip-strength than men exposed to the non-muscular figure.”
Forget going to the gym, looks like I need to start reading comic books again!