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Sexual objectification in women's daily lives: A smartphone ecological momentary assessment study

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Sexual objectification, particularly of young women, is highly prevalent in modern industrialized societies. Although there is plenty of experimental and cross-sectional research on objectification, prospective studies investigating the prevalence and psychological impact of objectifying events in daily life are scarce. We used ecological momentary assessment to track the occurrence of objectifying events over 1 week in the daily lives of young women (N = 81). Participants reported being targeted by a sexually objectifying event – most often the objectifying gaze – approximately once every 2 days and reported witnessing sexual objectification of others approximately 1.35 times per day. Further, multilevel linear regression analyses showed that being targeted by sexual objectification was associated with a substantial increase in state self-objectification. Overall, individual differences had little impact in moderating these effects.
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British Journal of Social Psychology (2016)
©2016 The British Psychological Society
www.wileyonlinelibrary.com
Special issue paper
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives: A
smartphone ecological momentary assessment
study
Elise Holland
1
*, Peter Koval
2,3
, Michelle Stratemeyer
1
,
Fiona Thomson
2
and Nick Haslam
1
1
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville,
Victoria, Australia
2
School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
3
Research Group of Quantitative Psychology and Individual Differences, KU Leuven,
Belgium
Sexual objectification, particularly of young women, is highly prevalent in modern
industrialized societies. Although there is plenty of experimental and cross-sectional
research on objectification, prospective studies investigating the prevalence and
psychological impact of objectifying events in daily life are scarce. We used ecological
momentary assessment to track the occurrence of objectifying events over 1 week in the
daily lives of young women (N=81). Participants reported being targeted by a sexually
objectifying event most often the objectifying gaze approximately once every 2 days
and reported witnessing sexual objectification of others approximately 1.35 times per
day. Further, multilevel linear regression analyses showed that being targeted by sexual
objectification was associated with a substantial increase in state self-objectification.
Overall, individual differences had little impact in moderating these effects.
In October 2014, domestic violence activist group ‘Hollaback!’ posted a video on
YouTube to highlight the prevalence of street harassment and objectification in the lives
of young women. The video shows hidden camera footage of a woman dressed in jeans
and a black crew neck T-shirt walking the streets of New York City for ten hours. Over the
course of the day, the camera recorded over 100 instances of objectifying behaviour
directed towards her, including verbal harassment, stares, winks, whistles, and crude
gestures. This video quickly went viral, amassing over 42 million views on YouTube as of
March 2016.
While public interest in the sexual objectification of women may ebb and flow, a steady
stream of research on the topic has emerged over the last two decades, following in the
footsteps of Fredrickson and Roberts’s (1997) influential paper on ‘Objectification
Theory’. Yet, due to a lack of naturalistic studies we still know very little about the
prevalence and psychological impact of sexual objectification in daily life. Most research
on the prevalence of sexually objectifying events has relied on one-shot retrospective
*Correspondence should be addressed to Elise Holland, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne,
Redmond Barry Building, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia (email: elise.holland@unimelb.edu.au).
DOI:10.1111/bjso.12152
1
surveys such as the Schedule of Sexist Events (Klonoff & Landrine, 1995) and the
Interpersonal Sexual Objectification Scale (ISOS; Kozee, Tylka, Augustus-Horvath, &
Denchik, 2007). While retrospective questionnaires are ideal for administration to large
samples (e.g., Hollaback!, 2016), their validity is undermined by cognitive and recall biases
(Schwarz, 2011). Research on the psychological impact of sexual objectification, mostly
conducted in the laboratory (e.g., Gervais, Vescio, & Allen, 2011; Saguy, Quinn, Dovidio,
& Pratto, 2010), is unaffected by retrospective biases but often lacks ecological validity
(Mitchell, 2012).
The present research aimed to track the prevalence and short-term impact of
objectifying events in the daily lives of young women using ecological momentary
assessment (EMA). Specifically, we employed EMA to assess the prevalence of targeted
and witnessed objectification, and the effect of such experiences on women’s
preoccupation with their appearance (i.e., self-objectification) over time. We also
explored a number of individual differences as potential moderators of these effects. To
our knowledge, this study is the first to capture objectifying events as they occur in
women’s daily lives, and the impact that they have on self-objectification.
The prevalence of sexual objectification for women
Large-scale retrospective surveys suggest that sexual objectification is experienced
frequently by females from a young age. A cross-cultural study spanning 22 countries and
surveying over 16,000 women found that 84% first experience street harassment before the
age of 17 (Hollaback!, 2016). Similarly, a recent Australian study estimates the lifetime
prevalence of sexual harassment among women to be 87%, with harassment including
everything from wolf whistles and catcalls to more severe forms, such as groping and
stalking (Johnson & Bennett, 2015). While these lifetime prevalence rates are alarming, they
may be distorted by recall biases, and also do not reveal how often women are exposed to
sexual objectification over shorter periods in their daily lives (e.g., a day or a week).
Human memory is far from perfect (Schacter, 1999). Recalling autobiographical events
involves an active reconstruction process, biased by current knowledge and beliefs
(Schacter, 1999; Thompson, Skowronski, Larsen, & Betz, 1996). Retrospectively
estimating the frequency of common daily events is particularly prone to distortion
because individual instances of the event ‘blend into one global, knowledge-like
representation’ (Schwarz, 2011, p. 29). If sexual objectification is as prevalent as
retrospective studies have reported, accurately estimating the frequency of objectifying
events over periods of weeks, months, or years may be difficult.
We are aware of only two previous investigations of women’s experiences of
objectifying events that used prospective designs. These studies used either event-
contingent sampling where participants are required to complete a survey as soon as
possible after a sexually objectifying event occurs (Swim, Hyers, Cohen, & Ferguson,
2001; Studies 1 and 2); or daily diaries where participants report on objectifying events
at the end of each day (Brinkman & Rickard, 2009; Swim et al., 2001; Study 3). Using
event-contingent sampling over 2 weeks, Swim et al. (2001) found that women were
exposed to sexist events approximately once (Study 1) or twice (Study 2) per week.
However, in these studies instances of sexual objectification comprised only one subset of
these sexist events, and were reported only once (Study 1) or twice (Study 2) per month,
on average. In contrast, using a daily diary approach resulted in much higher prevalence
rates, with Swim et al.’s participants (2001; Study 3) reporting sexual objectification
2Elise Holland et al.
approximately 1.38 times per week and Brinkman and Rickard’s (2009) participants
reporting objectifying events approximately 1.29 times per day.
These event-contingent and daily diary studies are less prone to retrospective biases
than long-term retrospective surveys. Nonetheless, prevalence estimates vary substan-
tially across the four studies, ranging from once per month to more than once per day. It is
quite likely that these discrepancies relate to the sampling methodology used, with daily
diary studies (Brinkman & Rickard, 2009; Swim et al., 2001; Study 3) providing higher
prevalence than event-contingent sampling studies (Swim et al., 2001; Studies 1 and 2).
Given that event-contingent sampling relies on participants’ being sufficiently motivated
and remembering to complete a survey after each event, participants are likely to
underreport events, particularly if they are relatively frequent (Reis & Gable, 2000). Daily
diary studies are less burdensome as participants must only remember to complete one
survey at the end of each day. However, end-of-day reports rely on participants’ ability to
accurately reconstruct events over an entire day, a difficult task unless the day is first
divided into shorter episodes (Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004). In
sum, neither daily diary nor event-contingent sampling approaches are well suited to
studying frequent daily occurrences, such as sexual objectification (Reis & Gable, 2000).
We addressed these limitations in the current study using a more intensive signal-
contingent EMA design, which does not rely on participants remembering to complete
surveys (cf. event-contingent sampling) or retrospectively recalling events over long
periods (cf. daily diaries). Instead, participants were prompted to report whether a
sexually objectifying event had occurred within the past 12 hr several times each day.
Thus, signal-contingent EMA designs are ideally suited to capturing relatively frequent
events in daily life (Reis & Gable, 2000).
The impact of objectifying events on women’s self-objectification
A central tenet of Fredrickson and Roberts’s (1997) Objectification Theory is that
interpersonal objectification experiences lead to a process known as self-objectification,
whereby women become preoccupied with their appearance, learning to internalize a
third-person perspective on the self. To date, a number of experimental studies have
demonstrated that exposure to objectifying environments leads to increases in women’s
momentary self-objectification (e.g., Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998;
Tiggemann & Boundy, 2008). As previously mentioned, however, the ecological validity
of such laboratory-based studies may be questionable. Cross-sectional correlational
research has also provided support for Fredrickson and Roberts’s (1997) claim, showing
that women who report greater exposure to objectifying events in their daily lives also
tend to score higher on trait measures of self-objectification (e.g., Kozee et al., 2007; Tylka
& Kroon van Diest, 2015). Aside from the problems associated with retrospective biases,
discussed earlier, such cross-sectional findings are exclusively ‘between-persons’ and
cannot be assumed to reflect how exposure to objectifying events influences self-
objectification over time for any given individual (i.e., ‘within-persons’; Hamaker, 2012).
To date, no existing research has explored how objectifying events in daily life influence
momentary state self-objectification.
To our knowledge, only one study (Breines, Crocker, & Garcia, 2008) has explored
women’s self-objectification in daily life. Although this study used EMA to assess
momentary fluctuations in state self-objectification, the researchers did not examine
exposure to objectifying events or how this impacts self-objectification. Thus, the current
study expands upon previous research by examining how exposure to objectifying events
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 3
is related to (within-person) changes in self-objectification over time, providing the first
test of this important tenet of Objectification Theory in the context of daily life.
The role of individual differences
Scant research to date has explored what individual differences make women more or less
prone to encounter objectifying events, and what factors buffer women from self-
objectifying in response to such events. Swim et al. (2001) examined a number of
individual difference measures (modern sexism, traditional gender role beliefs, and
feminist activism) and found no evidence that they predict frequency of objectifying
events. Regarding self-objectification, correlational research demonstrates that women
high on neuroticism and low on openness and agreeableness tend to score higher on
measures of trait self-objectification (Miner-Rubino, Twenge, & Fredrickson, 2002). The
present study expands on previous research by exploring how a range of individual
difference measures (body shame, self-esteem, restrained eating, trait self-objectification,
and the Big Five personality factors) are related to the frequency of objectifying events,
mean levels of self-objectification, and the impact of objectifying events on state self-
objectification in daily life. Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) posit that with the exception
of the Big Five, these individual differences are implicated in the objectification theory
model as outcomes of self-objectification. Research has demonstrated that self-
objectification leads to body shame (e.g., Noll & Fredrickson, 1998), restrained eating
(e.g., Fredrickson et al., 1998), and reduced self-esteem (e.g., Choma et al., 2010).
However, little is known about how these individual differences predict the ways in
which women respond to objectifying events at an earlier step in the model.
The current study
The present research used EMA to assess the prevalence of objectifying events, levels of
self-objectification, and the impact of objectifying events on self-objectification in
women’s daily lives and explored several individual differences as potential moderators of
that impact. Akin to Swim et al. (2001), in assessing objectifying events, we asked
participants to report not only events in which they were directly targeted by
objectification, but also events in which they witnessed objectification of other women.
This witnessed objectification could be interpersonal simply directed at another woman
as opposed to the self; or could be witnessed via the media (e.g., witnessing objectifying
billboards, TV shows, or magazines). Given Fredrickson and Roberts’s (1997) claim that
objectification in the media also facilitates self-objectification, and the abundance of
correlational (Morry & Staska, 2001) and experimental research (e.g., Aubrey, Henson,
Hopper, & Smith, 2009) supporting this link, we also examined how exposure to
objectifying media in women’s daily lives impacted state self-objectification.
Beyond this, we sought to extend upon Swim et al. (2001) and Brinkman and Rickard
(2009) by examining the prevalence of distinct forms of objectification, including the
objectifying gaze, catcalling/wolf-whistling, groping, sexual gestures, and sexual remarks.
Johnson and Bennett (2015) found that of the different forms of objectification, the gaze
and wolf-whistling were most commonly reported, experienced by approximately one-
third of Australian women over a 12-month period. However, no research has explored
the prevalence of these events on a daily basis.
Using EMA, we aimed to compare our prevalence estimates to previous studies that
have used retrospective or daily diary designs. In line with Fredrickson and Roberts
4Elise Holland et al.
(1997), we hypothesized that objectifying events (both experienced and witnessed)
would predict subsequent increases in state self-objectification. Although the inclusion of
the individual differences in our study was somewhat exploratory, we predicted that
individuals high in neuroticism and low in openness and agreeableness would be more
likely to engage in state self-objectification, consistent with Miner-Rubino et al. (2002).
Method
Participants
Participants were 81 women, aged 1846 (M
age
=22.33 years, SD =5.47), recruited
through advertisements posted around university buildings and via social media (e.g.,
Facebook, Gumtree). Participants predominantly identified as Caucasian (48.8%), East
Asian (35.4%) and South Asian (13.4%), with two participants identifying as ‘other’. We
aimed to recruit 100 women (by 31 December, 2015), but only managed to recruit 82
women who consented to participate. One participant withdrew during the initial
laboratory session leaving a final sample of 81. All participants were required to own a
smartphone running either Android (version 4.1 or higher) or iOS (version 7.1 or higher).
Participant reimbursement comprised a fixed amount of AU$30 plus additional incentives
of up to AU$20, contingent on EMA compliance, with maximum reimbursement for
completing 85% of EMA surveys. Compliance with the EMA protocol was generally high:
Half the participants completed 85% of EMA surveys and received the maximum
reimbursement.
Materials
Baseline survey
1
Body shame. Body shame was assessed via the 8-item body shame subscale of the
Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (OBCS; McKinley & Hyde, 1996). Example items
included ‘When I can’t control my weight, I feel like there must be something wrong with
me’ and ‘When I’m not the size I think I should be, I feel ashamed’. Participants rated each
item on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree)to7(strongly agree). Reliabilities and
descriptive statistics for all individual differences are provided in Table 1.
Trait self-objectification. The Self-Objectification Questionnaire (SOQ; Noll & Fredrick-
son, 1998) was employed to measure trait self-objectification. The questionnaire asks
participants to rank the importance of 10 different body attributes on the physical self-
concept, five of which are observable appearance-based attributes (e.g., physical
attractiveness, sex appeal, measurements), and five of which are non-observable
competence-based attributes (e.g., energy level, health, physical coordination). Partici-
pants ranked the 10 attributes on a scale from 1 (least impact on the physical self-concept)
to 10 (greatest impact on the physical self-concept). A difference score for each
participant was calculated reflecting the relative emphasis given to these two types of
1
The baseline survey also included four other scales, which are not discussed in this study. These scales include the Positive and
Negative Affect Schedule Expanded Form (Watson & Clark, 1994), the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1983), and the
Other-Objectification Questionnaire (Strelan & Hargreaves, 2005) administered separately to assess the objectification of
women and men.
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 5
Table 1. Means, standard deviations, reliabilities, and correlations among baseline measures
Mean SD 1 2 345 6 789
1. Self-Objectification
Questionnaire
(SOQ)
2.05 13.95
2. Self-esteem 2.96 0.50 .18 .88
3. Body shame 3.49 1.29 .27* .47** .84
4. Restrained eating 2.42 0.89 .28* .26* .62** .90
5. Extraversion 3.34 0.79 .07 .42** .18 .07 .87
6. Agreeableness 3.86 0.61 .09 .10 .02 .07 .13 .78
7. Conscientiousness 3.54 0.63 .03 .24* .02 .09 .25* .30** .82
8. Neuroticism 3.04 0.76 .14 .54** .31** .20 .46** .29** .43** .83
9. Openness 3.62 0.56 .14 .22 .15 .11 .33** .02 .23* .04 .74
Note. Alphas are listed in the diagonal in bold. N=7480. No alpha provided for SOQ due to rank-ordered nature of scale.
*p<.05; **p<.01.
6Elise Holland et al.
attributes, by subtracting the sum of the ranks for the competence-based attributes from
the sum of the ranks for the appearance-based attributes. Difference scores ranged from
25 to 25, with higher scores reflecting greater trait self-objectification (i.e., greater
emphasis on appearance-based attributes).
Restrained eating. We assessed the extent to which participants restrained their
food intake through an adapted version of Stice’s (1998) Dietary Intent Scale (DIS). The
DIS is a nine-item scale that measures intended restrained eating behaviour. Items were
altered in this study to reflect current, rather than future, behaviour. Example items
include ‘I eat low calorie foods in an effort to avoid weight gain’ and ‘I skip meals in an
effort to control my weight’. Participants responded on a scale from 1 (never)to7
(always).
Self-esteem. Rosenberg’s (1965) 10-item self-esteem scale was administered. Example
items include ‘On the whole, I am satisfied with myself’ and ‘I take a positive attitude
towards myself’, with items scored on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree)to4(strongly
agree).
Personality. We assessed personality via the 44-item Big Five Inventory (John, Donahue,
& Kentle, 1991). The scale measured the five dimensions of personality extraversion,
agreeableness, openness to experience, neuroticism, and conscientiousness with each
item rated on a scale from 1 (disagree strongly)to5(agree strongly).
EMA survey
At each EMA prompt, participants completed a measure of state self-objectification (‘since
the last survey, have you been thinking about how you look to other people?’) rated on a
scale from 0 (not at all) to 100 (very much so). This item was adapted from the self-
surveillance subscale of McKinley and Hyde’s (1996) OBCS. Next, participants indicated
whether they had been targeted by any sexually objectifying events since the previous
survey, using a checklist adapted from Kozee et al. (2007). For this item, participants
could select one or more of the following checkbox options: (1) catcalling, wolf-
whistling, or car honking; (2) sexual remark made about body; (3) touched/fondled
against will; (4) body looked at sexually; (5) degrading sexual gesture; (6) other
objectifying behaviour not listed above; and (7) none of the above. Finally, participants
were asked to indicate whether they had witnessed someone else being targeted by
sexually objectifying behaviours, using the same checklist with one additional response
option, (8) media image/video, which was designed to capture sexual objectification in
the media.
2
Procedure
Participants attended an initial laboratory session where they completed the baseline
survey. Participants then downloaded SEMA2, a custom-built application for delivering
2
The EMA survey also contained nine items assessing momentary feelings, which were not analysed for this report.
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 7
real-time surveys on Android and iOS smartphones, and received detailed instructions for
completing EMA surveys. They were provided with examples of the different forms of
objectification and were told to make a personal judgement regarding whether they
believed the behaviour classified as objectification. Participants also practised completing
the EMA survey and could ask clarification questions before leaving the laboratory. Over
the next 7 days, participants were prompted to complete an EMA survey at random
intervals ranging from 54 and 114 min between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight (i.e., on
average, participants were prompted to complete an EMA survey every 84 min,
equating to 10 EMA surveys per day). Unanswered surveys expired after 15 min to
prevent back-filling. On average, participants responded to 83% of EMA surveys
(median =86%, SD =13%, range =37100%), reflecting very good compliance. One
week later, participants attended a second laboratory session for debriefing and were
reimbursed.
Data preparation
Screening of responses to the EMA checkbox items assessing objectifying events revealed
that some events were rare (e.g., ‘touched/fondled against will’ was reported 16 times).
Thus, we collapsed responses on all of the event items into two binary Target and Witness
variables, where a value of 1 indicates that one or more sexually objectifying events
occurred and a value of 0 indicates that no objectifying event occurred.
3
While we first
assessed the prevalence of the different forms of targeted and witnessed objectification
separately, for all subsequent multilevel analyses we employed the binary Target and
Witness variables.
Statistical analyses
To account for the hierarchical data structure, where occasions (i.e., EMA surveys,
n=5,768) were nested within persons (n=81), we analysed data using multilevel
modelling with HLM version 7.01 (Raudenbush, Bryk, & Congdon, 2013). Specifically, we
constructed a series of two-level random coefficient models.
Random-intercept models: Mean level of self-objectification and prevalence of objectifying events
We modelled mean levels of self-objectification and prevalence of interpersonal
objectification (i.e., Target and Witness) and their associations with individual difference
variables using a series of random-intercept models. At the within-person level of each
model, person i’s value on the outcome at time twas modelled by an intercept (p
0i
) and a
residual (e
ti
) as shown in equation (1):
Yti ¼p0iþeti ð1Þ
With self-objectification (a continuous variable) as the outcome, the intercept (p
0i
)
represents person i’s mean level of self-objectification across all EMA occasions, and the
residual (e
ti
) represents how much person i’s score at time tdeviates from their mean
level. When modelling Target or Witness objectification (binary variables) as outcomes,
3
Out of a total of 4,777 completed EMA reports, women reported being targeted by multiple objectifying events on 57 occasions
(1%) and witnessing multiple objectifying events on 120 occasions (2.5%).
8Elise Holland et al.
a log-link function was added to the model shown in equation (1). In this case, the
intercept (p
0i
) represents person i’s log odds of being targeted by or witnessing
objectifying events across all EMA occasions. The log odds can be exponentiated to give
the odds of being targeted by or witnessing an objectifying event.
For both continuous and binary outcomes, the intercept (p
0i
) has a subscript i,
indicating that it can vary between persons. We modelled between-person variability in
the intercept (p
0i
) as a function of standardized scores on the individual difference
variables (denoted below by the generic term zModerator
i
). Specifically, at the between-
person level, the intercept (p
0i
) was treated as an outcome and modelled by a fixed
intercept (b
00
) reflecting the grand mean of the outcome in the sample, a fixed slope (b
01
)
reflecting the standardized association with the moderator,
4
and a random effect (r
0i
)
reflecting each person i’s deviation from the grand mean after accounting for the effect of
the moderator, as shown in equation (2):
p0i¼b00 þb01ðzModeratoriÞþr0ið2Þ
Random-slope models: Impact of objectifying events on self-objectification
We modelled the impact of witnessing or being targeted by an objectifying event (denoted
by the generic term Objectifying Event
ti
) on changes in state self-objectification, as
well as potential moderating effects of individual difference variables, using a series of
random-slope models. The within-person equation for these analyses is shown in
equation (3):
Self-objectificationti ¼p0iþp1iðObjectifying Eventti Þþp2iðSelf-objectificationt1iÞþeti
ð3Þ
Here, person i’s level of self-objectification at time tis modelled as a function of an
intercept (p
0i
), and a slope (p
1i
) representing the effect of being targeted by (Target
ti
)or
witnessing (Witness
ti
) an objectifying event at time t, while controlling for person i’s level
of self-objectification at time t1 (captured by the slope p
2i
). The ‘lagged’ predictor, self-
objectification
t1
, was person-centred (i.e., each person i’s mean across all occasions was
subtracted from their score at each time point) so that p
0i
represents person i’s mean level
of self-objectification across all occasions ton which no objectifying event was reported
(i.e., when Target
ti
or Witness
ti
=0). By including the lagged predictor (self-
objectification
t1
) in the model, the slope of objectifying events (p
1i
) can be interpreted
as the predicted change in self-objectification from t1totas a function of person i
reporting an objectifying event as having occurred between t1 and t(recall that
participants reported events ‘since the last survey’). Target
ti
and Witness
ti
were entered as
predictors in separate models.
We allowed the both the intercept and slopes in equation (3) to vary between
persons and modelled their associations with standardized scores on the individual
difference variables (denoted below by the generic term zModerator
i
) as shown in
equations (46):
4
For models including the Big Five personality traits, we entered all five predictors simultaneously and estimated five fixed slopes
(b
01
...b
05
), reflecting the unique effects of each personality dimension.
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 9
p0i¼b00 þb01ðzModeratoriÞþr0ið4Þ
p1i¼b10 þb11ðzModeratoriÞþr1ið5Þ
p2i¼b20 þb21ðzModeratoriÞþr2ið6Þ
Specifically, the within-person intercept (p
0i
) and slopes (p
1i
,p
2i
) were treated as
outcomes and modelled by fixed intercepts (b
00
,b
10
,b
20
) reflecting the grand means
of each outcome in the sample, fixed slopes (b
01
,b
11
,b
21
) reflecting standardized
associations with the moderator, and random effects (r
0i
,r
1i
,r
2i
) reflecting each
person i’s deviation from the grand mean after accounting for the effect of the
moderator. We were particularly interested in b
10
, reflecting the average (within-
person) impact of exposure to an objectifying event on change in state self-
objectification, and b
11
, which represents the moderating effect of individual
difference measures (e.g., self-esteem) on the within-person impact of objectifying
events on self-objectification.
5
Results
Prevalence statistics: Targeted objectification
Women in our study reported being targeted by sexual objectification on 299 of 4,777
completed EMA surveys (occasions). On average, women reported being targeted 3.69
times per week (SD =5.22, median =2, range =026), with 75% of participants (i.e., 61
women) being targeted by objectification at least once during the week. A total of 380
objectifying behaviours were reported over these 299 occasions, with women being
targeted by a single objectifying behaviour on the majority of occasions (81%) and a
maximum of five objectifying behaviours reported on two occasions (<1%). Figure 1a
depicts the prevalence of the different forms of objectification, showing that women were
most frequently targeted by the objectifying gaze (55% of events), followed by other forms
of objectification (18%), and catcalls/wolf whistles (11%).
Prevalence statistics: Witnessed objectification
Women reported witnessing objectification in 763 EMA surveys (occasions). On average,
women reported witnessing objectification 9.42 times over the week (SD =10.82,
median =6, range =056), with 88% of participants (i.e., 71 women) witnessing
objectification at least once during the study. A total of 943 objectifying behaviours were
reported across these 763 occasions. Again, witnessing one objectifying behaviour on a
given occasion was most common (84%), with a maximum of five forms of witnessed
objectification per occasion (<1%). Figure 1b depicts the prevalence of the different
forms of witnessed objectification, demonstrating objectification in the media to be most
prevalent (64% of events), followed by the objectifying gaze (13%).
5
For models including the Big Five personality traits, we entered all five predictors simultaneously and estimated five fixed slopes
(b
11
...b
15
), reflecting the unique effects of each personality dimension.
10 Elise Holland et al.
Multilevel modelling
Results from random-intercept models with Target and Witness objectification as
outcomes are shown in Table 2. Estimates of b
00
reflect the average log odds of being
targeted by or witnessing sexually objectifying events across the 7-day EMA sampling
period. When converted to odds (see OR values and 95% CIs in Table 2) they indicate that
for the average woman, the odds of being targeted and witnessing an objectifying event
were 0.07 and 0.18, respectively. Expressed as probabilities, the average woman had a
.065 chance of being targeted and a .154 chance of witnessing an objectifying event on any
given occasion.
Estimates of b
01
in Table 2 reflect the moderating effect of individual difference
variables on the odds of being targeted by and witnessing objectifying events. Of the nine
dispositional variables, only openness significantly moderated the odds of being targeted,
with women scoring higher on openness predicted to have increased odds of being
targeted by objectification. The estimated odds ratio for Openness indicates that a
participant scoring 1 SD above the mean on Openness was predicted to have 41% greater
Catcalls/Wolf
whistles
11%
Sexual remarks
10%
Touching/
Fondling
4%
Objectifying gaze
55%
Sexual gesture
2%
Other
18%
Sexual remarks
7% Touching/
Fondling
1%
Objectifying gaze
13%
Sexual gesture
5%
Objectification in
the media
64%
Catcalls/Wolf
whistles
3%
Other
7%
(a)
(b)
Figure 1. (a) Proportion of targeted objectification (N=380 events) as a function of objectification
type. (b) Proportion of witnessed objectification (N=943 events) as a function of objectification type.
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 11
Table 2. Results of logistic random-intercept models predicting the odds of being targeted by or witnessing objectifying events in daily life
Moderator
Targeted by objectifying events Witnessing objectifying events
Parameter Est. (SE) OR 95% CI pParameter Est. (SE) OR 95% CI p
Average (no moderator) b
00
2.69 (0.15) 0.07 0.05, 0.09 <.001 b
00
1.70 (0.14) 0.18 0.14, 0.24 <.001
Restrained eating b
01
0.04 (0.17) 1.04 0.74, 1.45 .827 b
01
0.10 (0.12) 1.11 0.87, 1.41 .401
Body shame b
01
0.22 (0.18) 0.80 0.56, 1.14 .218 b
01
0.03 (0.17) 1.03 0.74, 1.44 .858
Self-esteem b
01
0.36 (0.19) 1.43 0.99, 2.08 .057 b
01
0.17 (0.14) 1.18 0.89, 1.57 .241
Trait self-objectification b
01
0.09 (0.19) 1.09 0.75, 1.59 .634 b
01
0.04 (0.15) 1.04 0.77, 1.41 .802
Big Five
Extraversion b
01
0.12 (0.20) 0.89 0.60, 1.32 .555 b
01
0.20 (0.19) 1.22 0.84, 1.77 .301
Agreeableness b
02
0.14 (0.18) 1.15 0.80, 1.65 .458 b
02
0.17 (0.18) 0.84 0.59, 1.19 .327
Conscientiousness b
03
0.22 (0.24) 0.80 0.50, 1.29 .358 b
03
0.20 (0.18) 0.82 0.58, 1.16 .261
Neuroticism b
04
0.39 (0.21) 0.68 0.45, 1.02 .062 b
04
0.08 (0.23) 0.93 0.58, 1.48 .746
Openness b
05
0.34 (0.15) 1.41 1.04, 1.91 .027 b
05
0.23 (0.14) 1.25 0.95, 1.66 .115
Note. Separate models were conducted with Target and Witness as outcomes and with each individual difference variable as a predictor (except the Big Five, which
were entered simultaneously in one model). Due to missing data on individual difference variables and the numbers of parameters estimated in each model, df for each
model vary from 71 (Big Five models) to 80 (no-moderator models).
12 Elise Holland et al.
odds of being targeted by objectifying events than someone scoring at the mean. None of
the individual difference variables were reliably related to the odds of witnessing sexually
objectifying events.
Results of random-intercept models with self-objectification as the outcome are shown
in Table 3 (see Mean Level). On average, women in our sample reported a mean level of
self-objectification of 34.35 (on a scale from 0 to 100) across the 7-day EMA sampling
period (see b
00
estimate in Table 3, under Mean Level). This is slightly lower than the
mean typically observed in questionnaire measures such as the OBCS Self-Surveillance
scale (e.g., Calogero & Thompson, 2009; McKinley & Hyde, 1996). However, women
scoring higher on restrained eating and body shame, and those scoring lower on self-
esteem and Extraversion, reported higher mean levels of self-objectification (see b
01
estimates in Table 3, under Mean Level). The strongest effect was found for body shame :A
participant scoring 1 SD higher than average was predicted to have a mean level of self-
objectification 8.16 (4.45) scale points higher than someone with an average score on
body shame. Given that self-objectification was assessed on scale from 0 to 100 this effect
is moderate in magnitude, but it may nevertheless be practically important. Surprisingly,
trait self-objectification (as measured by the SOQ) was not reliably related to mean levels of
state self-objectification assessed using EMA (see Table 3), although the association was in
the predicted positive direction. Thus, women who ranked appearance-based body
attributes as highly important to their self-image in the laboratory at baseline did not
reliably report greater preoccupation with their appearance in daily life during the
following week.
Results of the random-slope models predicting change in self-objectification as a
function of being targeted by or witnessing objectifying events are shown in Table 3 (see
Effects of Being Targeted and Witnessing). Estimates of b
10
revealed that both being
targeted by and witnessing sexually objectifying events were associated with increases in
self-objectification. However, the increase in self-objectification was much larger when
being targeted by versus witnessing objectifying behaviour. Specifically, for the average
participant, being targeted predicted an 11.95 (3.51) point increase in self-objectifica-
tion, whereas witnessing was only associated with an increase of 3.29 (2.57) scale
points.
Given the high prevalence of being targeted by the objectifying gaze relative to other
forms of objectification (see Figure 1a), we conducted additional analyses separately
examining the impact of being targeted by the objectifying gaze versus other objectifying
behaviours. Specifically, occasions on which women reported being targeted by
objectifying behaviour were divided into Gaze-Only occasions (n=154), on which a
woman was targeted by the gaze in the absence of any other objectifying behaviour,
versus Other-Target occasions (n=145), on which a woman was targeted by any other
objectifying behaviour plus or minus the objectifying gaze. This analysis revealed that
both being targeted by the objectifying gaze (b=13.18, SE =2.23, 95% CI [8.75, 17.60],
p<.001) and being targeted by other forms of objectification (b=10.94, SE =2.66, 95%
CI [5.65, 16.23], p<.001) were associated with significant increases in self-objectifica-
tion and that these two slopes did not differ significantly from each other in magnitude,
v
2
(df =1) =0.43, p>.50.
Similarly, given the greater prevalence of witnessing objectification in the media
compared with other forms of objectification (see Figure 1b), we conducted further
analyses separately examining the impact of witnessing media objectification versus
witnessing other objectifying behaviours. Specifically, occasions on which women
reported witnessing objectifying behaviour were divided into Media-Only occasions
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 13
Table 3. Results of random-intercept and random-slope models predicting self-objectification in daily life
Moderator
Mean level Impact of being targeted on self-objectification Impact of witnessing on self-objectification
Parameter Est. (SE) 95% CI pParameter Est. (SE) 95% CI pParameter Est. (SE) 95% CI p
Average (no
moderator)
b
00
34.35 (2.3) 29.78, 38.92 <.001 b
10
11.95 (1.76) 8.44, 15.46 <.001 b
10
3.29 (1.29) 0.72, 5.85 .013
Restrained eating b
01
5.75 (2.76) 0.27, 11.24 .040 b
11
2.76 (1.48) 0.19, 5.71 .066 b
11
0.61 (1.15) 1.68, 2.89 .598
Body shame b
01
8.16 (2.24) 3.71, 12.62 <.001 b
11
3.65 (1.96) 0.25, 7.55 .066 b
11
0.49 (1.30) 2.09, 3.07 .705
Self-esteem b
01
6.75 (2.84) 12.40, 1.10 .020 b
11
3.63 (2.05) 7.71, 0.45 .080 b
11
1.15 (1.09) 3.32, 1.01 .292
Trait self-
objectification
b
01
3.07 (2.26) 1.43, 7.57 .179 b
11
0.94 (1.48) 2.01, 3.90 .527 b
11
1.75 (1.27) 4.29, 0.79 .173
Big Five
Extraversion b
01
5.18 (2.45) 10.07, 0.29 .038 b
11
2.22 (1.85) 5.91, 1.47 .235 b
11
0.85 (1.65) 4.14, 2.44 .608
Agreeableness b
02
1.95 (2.24) 6.42, 2.52 .388 b
12
0.66 (1.23) 3.12, 1.79 .592 b
12
0.98 (1.21) 3.39, 1.44 .423
Conscientiousness b
03
3.42 (2.49) 1.53, 8.38 .173 b
13
0.88 (1.70) 2.51, 4.27 .607 b
13
2.60 (1.49) 5.58, 0.37 .085
Neuroticism b
04
4.24 (3.06) 1.87, 10.34 .171 b
14
1.63 (2.15) 2.66, 5.93 .450 b
14
0.86 (1.57) 3.99, 2.28 .588
Openness b
05
3.36 (2.20) 1.02, 7.75 .131 b
15
2.06 (2.46) 6.97, 2.85 .407 b
15
0.32 (1.67) 3.64, 3.00 .850
Note. Separate models were conducted with Target and Witness as within-person predictors and individual difference variables as between-person predictors
(except the Big Five, which were entered simultaneously in one model). Due to missing data on individual difference variables and the numbers of parameters
estimated in each model, df for each model vary from 71 (Big Five models) to 80 (no-moderator models).
14 Elise Holland et al.
(n=512), on which a woman had witnessed objectification in the media in the absence of
any other objectifying behaviour, versus Other-Witness occasions (n=251), on which a
woman witnessed any other objectifying behaviour plus or minus objectification in the
media. This analysis revealed that both witnessing objectification in the media (b=3.25,
SE =1.69, 95% CI [0.12, 6.62], p=.059) and witnessing other forms of objectification
(b=4.05, SE =2.07, 95% CI [0.07, 8.17], p=.054) were associated with small
(marginally significant) increases in self-objectification and that these two slopes did not
differ significantly from each other in magnitude, v
2
(df =1) =0.08, p>.50.
Finally, moderation analyses revealed that the impact of being targeted on self-
objectification was marginally amplified among participants scoring higher on restrained
eating and body shame, and marginally attenuated among individuals with higher self-
esteem, although none of these effects were statistically significant at p<.05.
Conscientiousness was marginally, but again non-significantly, related to a reduced
impact of witnessing objectifying events on self-objectification.
Discussion
As anecdotal evidence (e.g., Bates, 2014) and social media activism (e.g., Hollaback!,
2014) suggest, objectifying events are frequently experienced by young women in
Western industrialized societies. Despite this, little work has empirically examined the
prevalence and impact of such events in women’s daily lives. The purpose of our research
was to address this important issue. Using EMA with a young female Australian sample, we
found that women are targeted by objectifying events, on average, 3.69 times per week
(i.e., approximately once every 2 days) and witness sexual objectification, on average,
9.42 times per week (i.e., more than once per day). We also found that both experienced
and witnessed objectification lead to increases in state self-objectification. Overall,
individual differences did not play a big role in moderating these effects.
One of the main aims of this study was to compare the prevalence of objectifying
events using EMA to previous estimates using prospective designs (Brinkman & Rickard,
2009; Swim et al., 2001). In their daily diary study, Brinkman and Rickard (2009) found
that women reported an average of 1.29 objectifying events per day. This estimate,
however, incorporated both experienced and witnessed objectifying events. If we
summarize our findings across the Target and Witness categories, we found a slightly
higher estimate of 1.87 objectifying events per day (0.53 experienced, and 1.35
witnessed). Similarly, our results suggest objectifying events are more common than
reported by Swim et al. (2001), who reported approximately one objectifying event every
5 days. There are two possible explanations for these discrepancies. First, our results may
reflect that objectifying events are becoming increasingly common for young women.
Alternatively, as our methodology differs from prior studies (Brinkman & Rickard, 2009;
Swim et al., 2001), it is possible that EMA more accurately captures the prevalence of
women’s experiences of objectifying events, which may have been underreported
previously. We therefore believe our estimate provides a higher and likely more accurate
representation of women’s experienced and witnessed objectification.
Our results also go beyond previous prospective studies to distinguish between
different forms of objectifying events. Consistent with Johnson and Bennett’s (2015)
correlational study, our findings demonstrate that more subtle forms of objectification are
most commonly experienced by women in our sample, the objectifying gaze was the
most common, followed by catcalls/wolf whistles. Although more invasive and overt
forms of objectification (e.g., groping, sexual gestures) were less commonly experienced,
Sexual objectification in women’s daily lives 15
all forms were reported at least once in our sample. Thus, while such severe instances of
objectification may not be common everyday experiences, they still occur frequently
enough to have been captured in a 7-day EMA study with a sample of 81 women. In terms
of witnessed objectification, objectification in the media was the most prevalent,
observed almost daily by women. This is not surprising, given that recent content analyses
reveal that over one-third of female artists in music videos are shown in provocative dress
(Aubrey & Frisby, 2011), and 83% of females shown on the cover of Rolling Stone in the
2000s were depicted in a sexualized way (Hatton & Trautner, 2011). Thus, even despite
recent efforts to reduce objectifying portrayals of women in the media (e.g., Vranica,
2016), such images are still highly prevalent.
Extending upon correlational (e.g., Kozee et al., 2007) and laboratory-based research
(e.g., Fredrickson et al., 1998), our results provide further support for Fredrickson and
Roberts’s (1997) Objectification Theory by demonstrating a link between objectifying
events and self-objectification in the real world. Women reported higher levels of self-
objectification following exposure to objectifying events. Although this effect was
stronger for objectifying events in which women were personally targeted, an effect still
emerged for witnessed objectification. Thus, merely witnessing objectification of other
women was sufficient to increase women’s preoccupation with their appearance.
Overall, the individual differences examined had little influence in making women
more or less prone to encountering or being impacted by objectifying events. Women
high in Openness were more likely to be targeted by objectification, although this effect
was relatively small and warrants replication. In terms of the influence of the individual
differences on state self-objectification, our findings demonstrate that women high in
body shame, restrained eating, and self-esteem and low in Extraversion report greater state
levels of self-objectification. None of the other Big Five factors had any effect on state self-
objectification, and thus, we did not replicate the findings of Miner-Rubino et al. (2002).
Of all the moderators tested, it is perhaps surprising that trait self-objectification did
not moderate any of the effects. In fact, this measure did not even significantly correlate
with mean levels of state self-objectification. One possible explanation for this lack of
alignment between state and trait self-objectification is our choice of measures. For trait
self-objectification, we employed the SOQ (Noll & Fredrickson, 1998), which asks
participants to rank-order the importance of observable versus non-observable body-
related attributes to their self-concept. In contrast our measure of state self-objectification
was adapted from the OBCS self-surveillance subscale (McKinley & Hyde, 1996), which
asked participants about the extent to which they had been thinking about their
appearance. As Calogero (2011) has argued, these two widely used measures of self-
objectification do not necessarily tap into the same construct it is possible to value
physical appearance without necessarily engaging in a process of self-surveillance. In line
with this, some evidence suggests that SOQ scores do not correlate strongly with self-
surveillance scores and that the two measures predict different outcomes (e.g., Hill &
Fischer, 2008; Kozee & Tylka, 2006). The lack of relationship between trait and average
levels of state self-objectification in the current study may be due to measurement
differences. Future research should investigate how strongly trait self-objectification
correlates with average levels of state self-objectification in daily life, using more similar
measures.
Although this is the first study to examine women’s daily experiences of objectification
using EMA, our study does come with some limitations and directions for future research.
Due to resource and time constraints, in the present study we were unable to assess
contextual characteristics of the objectifying events, including factors such as location of
16 Elise Holland et al.
the event, characteristics of the perpetrator, or situational features (e.g., if the participant
had been alone or with friends). These factors all likely play a role in moderating the effect
of objectifying events, and as such, future EMA research would benefit from greater
attention to contextual factors.
One additional limitation of the present study is that we did not control for individual
sensitivities to objectification, and thus cannot guarantee that all participants were
identifying exactly comparable events as objectifying. In the initial laboratory session, we
provided participants with detailed examples of the different objectifying behaviours, and
we instructed them to respond if they deemed the behaviour to be unwanted or
inappropriate. However, this is ultimately a somewhat subjective judgement. For one
woman, experiencing a gaze from a male may be personally construed as flattering, and
thus not registered as objectification. For another woman, however, it may be interpreted
as an objectifying experience. Future research should thus account for how individual
sensitivities to objectification shape both the reported frequency of experiencing such
events and the impact it has on the self. One variable that may impact a woman’s
sensitivity to objectification is individual differences in enjoyment of sexualization (Liss,
Erchull, & Ramsey, 2011). Women who like to self-sexualize may construe fewer
behaviours as objectifying, and may not always consider such behaviours unwanted or
inappropriate. Finally, while our results suggest that objectification experiences are
common in the lives of Australian women, cross-cultural research is much needed to
examine the prevalence of such events in different cultural contexts. With research
suggesting that 83% of women have experienced sexual harassment in Egypt (Egyptian
Center for Women’s Rights, 2008), and studies showing similar figures in Saudi Arabia
(Afeich, 2014), it would be fruitful for researchers to explore the prevalence and impact of
objectifying events in non-Western nations as well.
In sum, our findings suggest that objectifying events are extremely common in
women’s daily lives and that both experiencing and witnessing objectifying events lead
women to self-objectify. The current study adds to the literature on objectification by
examining real-world objectifying experiences, measured in close to real-time, and
demonstrating some of the negative consequences that can arise from ostensibly minor as
well as severe forms of objectification.
Acknowledgement
This research was supported by a Discovery grant from the Australian Research Council
(DP150103053).
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20 Elise Holland et al.
... Conversely, heterosexual female scripts depict sexual submissiveness and responsiveness to male desire through acting in the role of the provider of pleasure (Armstrong et al., 2012;Vannier & O'Sullivan, 2012). Sexual objectification is seen to play a central role in the reinforcement of the female sexual script (Simon & Gagnon, 1984), as women are indoctrinated from early childhood to view their bodies as a sexual commodity (Grower & Ward, 2018;Holland et al., 2016;Wiederman, 2005) and associate self-worth on appeasing a mate (Impett et al., 2006;Koval et al., 2019;Sanchez et al., 2005). ...
... Experiences of sexual objectification can lead to poor selfesteem as internal states are subjugated by external states, reduced psychological wellbeing (Sanchez et al., 2005), and perceived failure to meet societal standards which can lead to shame (Holland et al., 2016). Poor self-esteem in women has also been associated with reduced awareness of physiological sexual arousal (Moradi & Huang, 2008), reduced sexual wellbeing (Woertman & van den Brink, 2012), and inability to orgasm (Erbil, 2013;Frederick et al., 2018). ...
... The positive relationship noted between self-esteem and sexual assertiveness in the current study offers a prospective rationale for how the female sexual script (Simon & Gagnon, 1984) may contribute to less sexual satisfaction among women. Sexual script theory postulates that societal norms promote the objectification of women by prioritising aesthetics and performance to please a romantic and/ or sexual partner (Holland et al., 2016;Simon & Gagnon, 1984). Communication of equitable partnered sexual outcomes may be compromised in these contexts. ...
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The gendered disparity in orgasm frequency and sexual satisfaction during partnered sexual activity has implications for wellbeing, mental health, and relationship satisfaction. As such the current study investigated the role of sexual assertiveness and self-esteem as predictors of women’s sexual satisfaction, with sexual script theory offering a theoretical framework which may illuminate the problematic female sexual role. It was hypothesised that sexual assertiveness would mediate the positive relationship between self-esteem and both ego-centred and partner/activity-focused sexual satisfaction. Cross-sectional self-report data were collected online from 304 participants aged between 18–68 years who identified as heterosexual women. Results demonstrated that higher sexual assertiveness predicted higher sexual satisfaction, with sexual assertiveness found to mediate the relationship between women’s self-esteem and ego-centred sexual satisfaction (R² = .46, p < .001; Bindirect = .29, 95% BCI = .267, .523). Sexual assertiveness was also found to mediate the relationship between self-esteem and partner- and activity-focused sexual satisfaction (R² = .26, p < .001; Bindirect = .29, 95% BCI – .191, .400). Findings offer a foundation for future research and practical applications for practice professionals, mental health practitioners, and sex education programmes.
... One sexually objectifying behavior exhibited by heterosexual men and women is body-biased gaze (Bernard et al., 2018;Hollett et al., 2019;Lykins et al., 2008), although it is most commonly observed in men toward women (e.g., Bareket et al., 2018;Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Receiving body-biased gaze is potentially harmful, particularly to women, with links to decreased cognitive performance, increased self-objectification, and unwanted sexual advances (Calogero, 2004;Gervais et al., 2011;Holland et al., 2017;Kozee et al., 2007). Importantly, body gaze behavior can be influenced by the appearance of the recipient (Dixson et al., 2009;Gervais et al., 2013;Hollett et al., 2019;Smith et al., 2018), suggesting that the intentions, attitudes, and behaviors of gaze recipients need to be measured when describing heterosexual female and male gaze patterns. ...
... Sexual objectification has been empirically and theoretically extended in the 10 years following the publication of the Kozee et al. (2007) scale, so it is appropriate to generate new items for the purpose of scale development. In particular, we aimed to develop a body gaze scale referring to broader attitudes and behaviors with pervasive attributes (e.g., effortful and uninhibited) to reflect the deleterious manner in which sexually objectifying gaze is often described in the literature (e.g., Bareket et al., 2018;Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997;Gervais et al., 2013;Holland et al., 2017;Miles-McLean et al., 2014). One possible advantage of a scale which achieves this aim is an increased likelihood that it will overlap with other known, and arguably maladaptive, components of sexual objectification, such as decreased moral concern for women, dehumanization, as well as relaxed sexual assault attitudes and behaviors (Bernard et al., 2015;Loughnan et al., 2010Loughnan et al., , 2013Rudman & Mescher, 2012). ...
... By showing that gaze correlates with sexual assault attitudes, we have offered further evidence that gaze behavior might serve as one marker for individuals who might be at risk of becoming sexual predators or victims. It is also important to recognize that, under some circumstances, receipt of body gaze may be sufficiently harmful on its own, with victimized women reporting increased benevolent sexism and self-objectification attitudes (Holland et al., 2017;Kozee et al., 2007;Sáez et al., 2016). Therefore, broadening our capacity to measure body gaze is important for furthering our understanding of the consequences of sexual objectification on these recipients. ...
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Body gaze behavior is assumed to be a key feature of sexual objectification. However, there are few self-report gaze measures available and none capturing behavior which seeks to invite body gaze from others. Across two studies, we used existing self-report instruments and measurement of eye movements to validate a new self-report scale to measure pervasive body gaze behavior and body gaze provocation behavior in heterosexual women and men. In Study 1, participants ( N = 1021) completed a survey with newly created items related to pervasive body gaze and body gaze provocation behavior. Participants also completed preexisting measures of body attitudes, sexual assault attitudes, pornography use, and relationship status. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses across independent samples suggested a 12-item scale for men and women to separately measure pervasive body gaze (5 items) and body gaze provocation (7 items) toward the opposite sex. The two scales yielded excellent internal consistency estimates (.86–.89) and promising convergent validity via positive correlations with body and sexual attitudes. In Study 2, a subsample ( N = 167) of participants from Study 1 completed an eye-tracking task to capture their gaze behavior toward matched images of partially and fully dressed female and male subjects. Men exhibited body-biased gaze behavior toward all the female imagery, whereas women exhibited head-biased gaze behavior toward fully clothed male imagery. Importantly, self-reported body gaze correlated positively with some aspects of objectively measured body gaze behavior. Both scales showed good test–retest reliability and were positively correlated with sexual assault attitudes.
... As noted by World Health Organization (2013), sexual violence against women is a worldwide health epidemic. Compared to overt sexual assault, women may more often experience subtle indignities, such as receiving gazes that focus on their bodies, sexualized compliments, and street harassments (Davidson, 2016;Holland et al., 2017). These experiences are sexual objectification, which is defined as a woman's body being isolated from the entire person and her worth is merely based on her appearance and sexual functions in fulfilling other's sexual desires (Bartky, 1990;Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997). ...
... Specifically, interpersonal maltreatment may play a significant role in predicting insomnia, but little research has directly tested the association between interpersonal maltreatment and insomnia, the underlying psychological mechanisms, and the implications for affective symptoms. In this research, we examined whether sexual objectification, a form of interpersonal maltreatment, exacerbates insomnia because of objectification's high prevalence in women's daily life and its adverse consequences (Holland et al., 2017;Koval et al., 2019;Roberts et al., 2018). ...
... Sexual objectification is a notorious interpersonal maltreatment that women may experience in their daily lives (Holland et al., 2017). The current study is one of the first studies to examine the associations between sexual objectification, perceived stress, insomnia, and affective symptoms and to test whether dispositional characteristics may moderate the associations. ...
Article
Background : Sexual objectification is a form of interpersonal maltreatment that women may experience in daily life. Research has focused on testing how it leads to various psychological distresses. However, little research has examined its influences on women's sleep quality, the underlying psychological mechanism, and the potential implication for affective symptoms. We addressed this research gap by testing whether sexual objectification predicted perceived stress and insomnia, thereby predicting affective symptoms (i.e., depression and anxiety). We further examined whether sex-is-power beliefs moderated these associations. Methods : Participants completed validated measures of sex-is-power beliefs, sexual objectification, perceived stress, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. We conducted regression analyses, structural equation modeling, and bootstrapping analyses to test the associations between these psychological constructs. Results : As predicted, the results showed that sexual objectification was positively associated with perceived stress, insomnia, and affective symptoms. Moreover, perceived stress and insomnia serially mediated the association between sexual objectification and affective symptoms. Furthermore, sex-is-power beliefs moderated the serial mediation effect, such that the effect was only observed among participants with weak sex-is-power beliefs. Conclusions : These findings advanced current theories and knowledge of sexual objectification by demonstrating that sexual objectification is associated with perceived stress and insomnia, thereby predicting affective symptoms. The findings also highlighted the role of beliefs in weakening the negative consequences of sexual objectification.
... Women are treated as objects of longing and sex [17] (See Mitchell & Mazzeo, 2009). Moreover, feminists claim that hidden objectifying messages in commercials express that using body lotion, night cream, or day cream increases a woman's worth and her chances of becoming engaged with a good-looking and well-to-do man [10], [34] (See Holland et al., 2017;Wilde et al., 2020). Beauty products are ornamented by portraying women as submissive, beautiful, and attractive in television commercials, they follow a chauvinistic approach to market their beauty products [1], [12] (See Anderson et al., 2018;Johnston-Robledo & Fred, 2008). ...
... Women are treated as objects of longing and sex [17] (See Mitchell & Mazzeo, 2009). Moreover, feminists claim that hidden objectifying messages in commercials express that using body lotion, night cream, or day cream increases a woman's worth and her chances of becoming engaged with a good-looking and well-to-do man [10], [34] (See Holland et al., 2017;Wilde et al., 2020). Beauty products are ornamented by portraying women as submissive, beautiful, and attractive in television commercials, they follow a chauvinistic approach to market their beauty products [1], [12] (See Anderson et al., 2018;Johnston-Robledo & Fred, 2008). ...
... This theory also claims that commercials' objectifying messages lead women to believe that they are mere an object with value based on their outward appearance [3] (See Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). However, according to the objectification theory, women's fear for their physical appearance rises as a result, leading to increase in the phenomenon of body shaming, which can lead in eating disorders, fear, depression, and sexual dysfunction [3], [10], [12] (See Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Holland et al., 2017; Johnston-Robledo & Fred, 2008). We also regard critical race theory as used by feminists of Critical race. ...
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The primary goal of this research study is to determine that how a female in the Pakistani television industry is objectified and body-shamed through electronic media advertising, which idealizes the female body as a thin, soft, cunning materialistic object. Women's objectification in western culture has been studied extensively, and a new field of feminist scholars has arisen [3] (See Basow et al., 2007). In Pakistan, however women's objectification in television advertisements has earned little recognition [2] (See Baldissarri et al., 2020). Nevertheless, it is very essential to analyze that how a woman is portrayed in the Pakistani television advertisements, according to the perception of Pakistani television industry a woman's success is determined by her physical attractiveness (her white complexion, flawless skin, long and bouncing hair and the outfits that are skin tight) [13] (See Karsay, 2020); To pinpoint how chauvinist media produced objective representations of feminine appearance, we apply qualitative methodology (critical discourse analysis). We assert that the portal of a consummate woman (as presented in the electronic media) downgrades women to a mere object, leisure, sex appealing thing rather than a human being and living creator with emotions and feelings [4] (See Briñol et al., 2017). We argue in the study that increasing the physical exposure of famine beauty is harmful to women in particular and society in general because it allows them to pursue acceptance in males' fantasized world.
... This socio-cultural attitude to perceive and evaluate women based on their physical appearance-rather than on their skills or personhood-is still deeply rooted in western societies. Holland, Koval, Stratemeyer, Thomson, and Haslam (2017), for example, found that women experience sexual objectification almost 3-4 times per week on average and observe other women's sexual objectification 9-10 times on average. ...
Article
A growing amount of empirical evidence shows that sexual objectification can be elicited within the context of romantic relationships, leading to adverse consequences for women's well‐being. However, most of this research assessed women's self‐reported perceptions of being objectified by their romantic partner, while scant and not converging research has considered men's objectifying perceptions toward their romantic partners. Furthermore, little is known about the underlying mechanisms through which partner‐objectification is associated with negative consequences for women. To fill these gaps, we involved a sample of heterosexual couples (N = 196) and investigated whether men's partner‐objectification would be related to women's self‐objectification (in terms of self‐surveillance) and, in turn, their body shame. Further, we examined whether self‐objectification and body shame mediated the relation between men's partner‐objectification and women's undermined life satisfaction. Confirming our hypotheses, serial mediation analyses showed that partner‐objectification was associated with life satisfaction in women via the indirect effect of self‐objectification and body shame. Implications of these findings for literature on sexual objectification and relationship satisfaction are discussed. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.
... Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) refers to a range of methods used for measuring daily life feelings, events, experiences, and behaviors in real-time, real-world settings [1]. These methods include pen-and-paper surveys and diary methods [2,3] and surveys delivered via palmtop computers [4,5], mobile phone SMS text messaging [6,7], and, most recently, smartphone apps [8][9][10]. In the past decade, smartphone app-based EMA has surged in popularity, coinciding with an exponential growth in smartphone ownership; in the United Kingdom, 87% of the population owned a smartphone in 2020 compared with only 27% in 2010 [11,12]. ...
... Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) refers to a range of methods used for measuring daily life feelings, events, experiences, and behaviors in real-time, real-world settings [1]. These methods include pen-and-paper surveys and diary methods [2,3] and surveys delivered via palmtop computers [4,5], mobile phone SMS text messaging [6,7], and, most recently, smartphone apps [8][9][10]. In the past decade, smartphone app-based EMA has surged in popularity, coinciding with an exponential growth in smartphone ownership; in the United Kingdom, 87% of the population owned a smartphone in 2020 compared with only 27% in 2010 [11,12]. ...
Article
Background: Smartphone app-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) without face-to-face contact between researcher and participant (app-based noncontact EMA) potentially provides a valuable data collection tool when geographic, time, and situational factors (eg, COVID-19 restrictions) place constraints on in-person research. Nevertheless, little is known about the feasibility of this method, particularly in older and naïve EMA participants. Objective: This study aims to assess the feasibility of app-based noncontact EMA as a function of previous EMA experience, by recruiting and comparing a group of participants who had never participated in EMA before against a group of participants who had been part of an earlier in-person EMA study, and age, by recruiting middle-aged to older adults. Methods: Overall, 151 potential participants were invited via email; 46.4% (70/151) enrolled in the study by completing the baseline questionnaire set and were emailed instructions for the EMA phase. Of these participants, 67% (47/70) downloaded an EMA app and ran the survey sequence for 1 week. In total, 5 daytime surveys and 1 evening survey, each day, assessed participants' listening environment, social activity, and conversational engagement. A semistructured exit telephone interview probed the acceptability of the method. As markers of feasibility, we assessed the enrollment rate, study completion rate, reason for noncompletion, EMA survey response rate, and likelihood of reporting an issue with survey alerts and requested assistance from researchers, family, or friends. Results: Enrollment rates among invitees (63.3% vs 38.2%; P=.004) and completion rates among enrollees (83.9% vs 53.8%; P<.001) were higher in the experienced than in the naïve EMA group. On average, experienced participants responded to 64.1% (SD 30.2%) of the daytime EMA surveys, and naïve participants responded to 54.3% (SD 29.5%) of the daytime EMA surveys (P=.27). Among participants who retrospectively reported issues with survey alerts, only 19% (3/16) requested researcher assistance during data collection. Older participants were more likely to report not being alerted to EMA surveys (P=.008), but age was unrelated to all other markers of feasibility. Post hoc analyses of the effect of the phone operating system on markers of feasibility revealed that response rates were higher among iOS users (mean 74.8%, SD 20.25%) than among Android users (mean 48.5%, SD 31.35%; P=.002). Conclusions: Smartphone app-based noncontact EMA appears to be feasible, although participants with previous EMA experience, younger participants, and iOS users performed better on certain markers of feasibility. Measures to increase feasibility may include extensive testing of the app with different phone types, encouraging participants to seek timely assistance for any issues experienced, and recruiting participants who have some previous EMA experience where possible. The limitations of this study include participants' varying levels of existing relationship with the researcher and the implications of collecting data during the COVID-19 social restrictions.
Article
Women with poorer body image tend to report lower sexual well-being; yet, minimal research has examined interpersonal factors affecting women's body image in the context of sexual activity. We examined women's perceptions of the influence of relationship and partner factors on their body image during sexual activity with their male partner. Semi-structured interviews with 16 young adult women (ages 19-29) revealed that relationship factors (relationship quality and stage) and partner factors (partner's judgment or objectification, compliments from partner, partner's attractiveness, partner's body image, and partner initiation of sexual activity) were perceived as influencing body image in sexual situations.
Article
In this article, we report two studies that examined the dynamics between interpersonal sexual objectification, self-objectification, and individuals’ attachment in romantic relationships. Study 1 was based on data from 392 college students ( M age = 21.42 years, 66.8% women). Results showed positive associations between interpersonal sexual objectification, self-objectification, attachment anxiety, and attachment avoidance among women. For men, significant and positive associations were only observed between interpersonal sexual objectification and self-objectification and between self-objectification and attachment anxiety. Study 2 was a 6-month longitudinal study where we recruited participants through CloudResearch ( n = 638, M age = 24.26 years, 55.8% women at Time 1; n = 283, M age = 24.43 years, 56.9% women at Time 2; return rate = 44.36%). Results from longitudinal analyses showed that women reported stronger stability in self-objectification than men, and for both women and men, their attachment anxiety predicted increased self-objectification. Additionally, in both studies, women reported higher levels of interpersonal sexual objectification, self-objectification, and attachment anxiety than men. Overall, the findings suggest that high-quality relationships may help buffer the negative effects engendered by an objectifying culture. Based on our results, we recommend that clinicians and parents work to foster secure and healthy relationships as a means of reducing the extensive negative repercussions of objectification.
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In the current research, we examined whether ostracism and sexual objectification affect the tendency to blame the victim of sexual harassment. Previous research concerning victim blame examined the attribution of blame considering the characteristics of the victim, the perpetrator, and the relation between them. However, no research to date examined whether situational factors of the perceiver can affect their perception and judgment of blame. We propose that sexual objectification and ostracism may elicit empathy toward the victim, and in turn, reduce victim blame. In two experimental studies, women were instructed to imagine interacting with a videotaped man who either gazed at their body (objectification), away from them (ostracism), or at their face (treated well). Then, they were asked to read a newspaper article (study 1) or watch a video (study 2) portraying encounters in which the man's sexual advances continued after the woman expressed discomfort and lack of interest. In study 1, we found that sexually objectified women attributed less blame to the woman compared with the women who were treated well, with ostracized women falling in between and marginally different from both. In study 2, using mediation analysis we found an indirect effect such that sexually objectified women experienced greater empathy toward the victim, which was associated with reduced attribution of blame. It appears that greater similarity between the situation of the perceiver and the situation of the victim elicits greater empathy. This adds to the previous knowledge that personality similarities result in higher empathy.
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Within objectification theory research, sexual objectification is typically operationalized as interpersonal sexual objectification—being targets of body evaluation and unwanted sexual advances. We argue that women’s male partners’ pornography use could be integrated within objectification theory as another form of sexual objectification and negatively linked to women’s well-being. College women (N = 171) rated how often their current and previous male partners viewed pornography and whether pornography use bothered them. They also completed measures of objectification theory constructs, internalization of cultural beauty standards, relationship attachment, self-esteem, body appreciation, and negative affect. The extent to which women were bothered by partner pornography use was controlled in all analyses. Path analysis revealed that previous partners’ pornography use (a) directly predicted interpersonal sexual objectification, internalization, and eating disorder symptomatology and (b) indirectly predicted body surveillance and body shame through internalization. In hierarchical regressions, previous partners’ pornography use inversely predicted self-esteem and body appreciation and positively predicted relationship anxiety and negative affect. Current partners’ pornography use was not linked to any criterion. Researchers should more comprehensively examine partners’ pornography use in relation to women’s distress. Practitioners may consider exploring male partners’ pornography use in female clients’ relationship histories and its potential associations with their well-being when relevant to them. Additional online materials for this article are available to PWQ subscribers on PWQ's website at http://pwq.sagepub.com/supplemental.
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This article offers objectification theory as a framework for understanding the experiential consequences of being female in a culture that sexually objectifies the female body. Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to internalize an observer's perspective as a primary view of their physical selves. This perspective on self can lead to habitual body monitoring, which, in turn, can increase women's opportunities for shame and anxiety, reduce opportunities for peak motivational states, and diminish awareness of internal bodily states. Accumulations of such experiences may help account for an array of mental health risks that disproportionately affect women: unipolar depression, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders. Objectification theory also illuminates why changes in these mental health risks appear to occur in step with life-course changes in the female body.
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This paper describes the development, reliability, and validity of the Schedule of Sexist Events (SSE), a measure of lifetime and recent (past year) sexist discrimination in women's lives. A culturally diverse standardization sample of 631 women completed the 20-item SSE. Factor analyses revealed that the SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent have four factors: Sexist Degradation, Sexism in Distant Relationships, Sexism in Close Relationships, and Sexist Discrimination in the Workplace. The SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent scales had high internal-consistency (.92, .90) and split-half (.87, .83) reliability, and the factors were similarly reliable. Validity was established by demonstrating that scores on the SSE-Lifetime and SSE-Recent correlate as well with two other measures of stressful events (the Hassles Frequency and the PERI—Life Events scales [PERI-LES]) as those measures correlate with each other. Sexist discrimination (events) can be understood as gender-specific, negative life events (stressors). Descriptive data indicated that sexist discrimination is rampant in women's lives. Additional analyses revealed significant status differences in experiencing sexist discrimination, with women of color reporting more sexism in their lives than White women.
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To facilitate a multidimensional approach to empathy the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) includes 4 subscales: Perspective-Taking (PT) Fantasy (FS) Empathic Concern (EC) and Personal Distress (PD). The aim of the present study was to establish the convergent and discriminant validity of these 4 subscales. Hypothesized relationships among the IRI subscales between the subscales and measures of other psychological constructs (social functioning self-esteem emotionality and sensitivity to others) and between the subscales and extant empathy measures were examined. Study subjects included 677 male and 667 female students enrolled in undergraduate psychology classes at the University of Texas. The IRI scales not only exhibited the predicted relationships among themselves but also were related in the expected manner to other measures. Higher PT scores were consistently associated with better social functioning and higher self-esteem; in contrast Fantasy scores were unrelated to these 2 characteristics. High EC scores were positively associated with shyness and anxiety but negatively linked to egotism. The most substantial relationships in the study involved the PD scale. PD scores were strongly linked with low self-esteem and poor interpersonal functioning as well as a constellation of vulnerability uncertainty and fearfulness. These findings support a multidimensional approach to empathy by providing evidence that the 4 qualities tapped by the IRI are indeed separate constructs each related in specific ways to other psychological measures.
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This volume provides an overview of research methods in contemporary social psychology. Coverage includes conceptual issues in research design, methods of research, and statistical approaches. Because the range of research methods available for social psychology have expanded extensively in the past decade, both traditional and innovative methods are presented. The goal is to introduce new and established researchers alike to new methodological developments in the field.