Doctor of Philosophy
Date of Defense
Stake, Jayne E.
Body objectification occurs when individuals adopt an observer’s view of their body and treat their body as an object. This process has been linked to a host of harmful consequences, including appearance anxiety and shame, decreased awareness of internal bodily states, eating disorders, depression, and sexual dysfunction (see Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997, for a review). The current investigation is based on objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997), a sociocultural framework that describes the experiences and psychological risks of those who objectify their bodies. This study examined trait levels of self-objectification and social physique anxiety in women and men, as well as state levels following an experimental prime. One hundred ninety-two participants were assigned to one of three conditions: expecting to meet an opposite-gender person, expecting to meet a same-gender person, or no mention of meeting another person (control condition). It was predicted that women would have significantly higher levels of trait self-objectification and appearance anxiety than men but that this gender gap would decrease in the opposite-gender condition with respect to state levels. A buffering effect was also explored for those in the same-gende condition. The primary design of the study was a 2 by 3 by 2 (Gender x Condition x Time) mixed ANCOVA. As expected, trait levels of social physique anxiety were significantly higher for women than for men. However, contrary to expectations, trait levels of self-objectification were similar across genders, and the gender gap did not narrow for state levels of either dependent variable. Patterns did reveal that state self-objectification was highest in the opposite-gender condition relative to the other two conditions for both genders. A buffering effect appeared in the same-gender condition for self-objectification, particularly for men. However, women’s state social physique anxiety was highest in the same-gender condition, followed by the opposite-gender and control conditions, whereas men’s levels were highest in the control condition, followed by the same-gender and relationship conditions. Interpretations of the findings and implications of the study are discussed.
Barnett, Erin Renee, "An Examination of Body Objectification and Social Physique Anxiety in Women and Men: The Priming Effects of Anticipating a Brief Social Interaction" (2009). Dissertations. 507.