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2018-06-15 🍻

It is frequent that among sports people there is a classification of body types. Curiously this is a topic inherited from several decades past, which also involves a naturalization and co-relation with psychological stereotyping that has long been criticized. Among this range of problems, which also involves a dose of naturalization and perhaps even familiarity with phrenology, the physical typology still is very widely used.

A description of the downtown of the Olympic city 1972 Eugene, Oregon, depicts the place as overfull with "flocks of ectomorphic, prominently veined competitors" [moore2010leading p. 180]. This is not an old or out of day publication. It is a compilation of stories by leading publisher Runner's World into a collection in form of printed book.

Somatotype and constitutional psychology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Somatotype is a taxonomy developed in the 1940s by American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon to categorize the human physique according to the relative contribution of three fundamental elements which he termed "somatotypes". He named these after the three germ layers of embryonic development: the endoderm, (which develops into the digestive tract), the mesoderm, (which becomes muscle, heart and blood vessels) and the ectoderm (which forms the skin and nervous system).[1] His initial visual methodology has been discounted as subjective and largely discredited, but later formulaic variations of the methodology, developed by his original research assistant Barbara Heath, and later Lindsay Carter and Rob Rempel are still in academic use.[2][3][4]

Constitutional psychology is a now neglected theory, also developed by Sheldon in the 1940s, which attempted to associate his somatotype classifications with human temperament types.[5][6] The foundation of these ideas originated with Francis Galton and eugenics.[2] Sheldon and Earnest Hooton were seen as leaders of a school of thought, popular in anthropology at the time, which held that the size and shape of a person's body indicated intelligence, moral worth and future achievement.[2]

In his 1954 book, Atlas of Men, Sheldon categorised all possible body types according to a scale ranging from 1 to 7 for each of the three "somatotypes", where the pure "endomorph" is 7–1–1, the pure "mesomorph" 1–7–1 and the pure "ectomorph" scores 1–1–7.[7][8] From type number, an individual's mental characteristics could supposedly be predicted.[7] Barbara Honeyman Heath, who was Sheldon's main assistant in compiling Atlas of Men, accused him of falsifying the data he used in writing the book.[2]


The three types[edit]

Sheldon's "somatotypes" and their associated physical and psychological traits were characterized as follows:[3][8]

Comparison of body types


There is evidence that different physiques carry cultural stereotypes. For example, one study found that endomorphs are likely to be perceived as slow, sloppy, and lazy. Mesomorphs, in contrast, are typically stereotyped as popular and hardworking, whereas ectomorphs are often viewed as intelligent but fearful and usually take part in long distance sports, such as marathon running.[9]


Sheldon's ideas that body type was an indicator of temperament, moral character or potential—while popular in an atmosphere accepting of the theories of eugenics—were soon widely vilified.[2][27]

The principal criticism of Sheldon's constitutional theory was that it was not a theory at all but one general assumption, continuity between structure and behavior, and a set of descriptive concepts to measure physique and behavior in a scaled manner.[3]

His use of thousands of photographs of naked Ivy League undergraduates, obtained without explicit consent, from a pre-existing program evaluating student posture, has been described as scandalous, and perverted ("the study of nude people by lewd people").[2][28]

His original visual assessment methodology, based on the photographs, has also been criticized as subjective.[2][3][4]

His original thesis has also been described as fraudulent for knowingly failing to acknowledge/account for body shape changing with age.[2]

His suggestion of a genetic link to both body shape and personality traits has also been described as objectional.[4]

Sheldon's work has also been criticized as being heavily burdened by his own stereotypical and discriminatory views.[2][5]

While popular in the 1950s,[28] Sheldon's claims have been dismissed by modern scientists, calling them "outdated" or "quackery".[3][4][5][29][30][31]


Kinanthropometry is defined as the study of human size, shape, proportion, composition, maturation, and gross function, in order to understand growth, exercise, performance, and nutrition.[1]

It is a scientific discipline that is concerned with the measurement of individuals in a variety of morphological perspectives, its application to movement and those factors which influence movement, including: components of body build, body measurements, proportions, composition, shape and maturation; motor abilities and cardiorespiratory capacities; physical activity including recreational activity as well as highly specialized sports performance.[2] The predominant focus is upon obtaining detailed measurements upon the body composition of a given person.

Kinanthropometry is the interface between human anatomy and movement. It is the application of a series of measurements made on the body and from these we can use the data that we gather directly or perform calculations using the data to produce various indices and body composition predictions and to measure and describe physique.

Kinanthropometry is an unknown word for many people except those inside the field of sport science. Describing the etymology of the word kinanthropometry can help illustrate simply what you are going to talk about. However, if you have to say just a few sentences about the general scope of it, some problems will arise immediately. Is it a science? Why are its central definitions so ambiguous and various? For what really matter the kinanthropometric assessment. And so on.

Defining a particular aim for kinanthropometry is central for its full understanding. Ross et al. (1972) said “K is a scientific discipline that studies the body size, the proportionality, the performance of movement, the body composition and principal functions of the body. This so well cited definition is not completely exact as the last four words show. What are the kinanthropometric methods that truly tell us something about principal functions of the body? In principle an amount or distribution of fat mass or muscular mass could be correlated or show a level of causation with any disease. The morpho-physiological mechanisms involved in those explanations are big enigmas today. Few diseases are in practice diagnosed using anthropometric measures and body composition methods at any public health care system. The use of body composition outcomes for predicting health status due to their associations with a lot of physiological variables is valid. However, this purpose is not included within the kinanthropometric perspective because the absent of movement prediction's probability in those diagnoses. The countless uses of some of its fundamental methods have to be accepted but they should not change the theoretical core of the scientific discipline. On the other hand, this definition omits some important objectives of quantifying the body that are an indelible part of its frame; for example: the study of human shape using the method of the anthropometric somatotype of Carter and Heath (1990). Besides that, the performance of movement is why one studies the body size, proportionality, body composition, and human shape. It is confusing to write at the same level the performance of movement because then one never clearly portrays the purpose of the discipline, meaning that a descriptive knowledge of the body is the sole purpose while you are mixing the real scope in the statement.

Stewart (2010) defined kinanthropometry as "The academic discipline that involves the use of anthropometric measures in relation to other scientific parameters and/or thematic areas such as human movement, physiology or applied health sciences".

For Betancourt (2009), kinanthropometry is a scientific discipline of biomechanics that can be defined as: the set of theoretical assumptions that explain the relationships between the morpho-functional structure of healthy individuals and their biological potentiality of performing an efficient motion in an ontogenic moment.


Last edited on 27 June 2015, at 04:38

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