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Sex Differences in Objectification


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Title: Sex Differences in Objectification

Sex Differences in Objectification
Casie Rindfleisch Regan A. R. Gurung
University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Are there differences between men and women in
how they objectify themselves and others? We
measured objectification by having participants
complete a self-objectification survey and an
other-objectification survey, then had them rate
photographs of male and female models.
Self-objectification was not correlated with
other-objectification but men were more critical
of other women. These findings support both
objectification and social role theory.
This study was a 2 (male/female) by 3 (self,
other-same sex, other-opposite sex) mixed
factorial design. The independent variables were
the targets sex and participants sex, and the
dependent variable was the rating participants
gave to themselves and to the target males and
females. Participants in this study were 115
undergraduate students at the University of
Wisconsin-Green Bay who were primarily students
enrolled in an introduction to psychology course
during the fall semester of 2005 and fulfilled a
course requirement. The mean age of subjects was
19.79 (SD 4.32) with an age range of 18-52
years old. 57 of the participants were female
while 58 were male. 65 were freshmen, 26 were
sophomores, 5 were juniors, 18 were seniors and 1
classified themselves as other. Two
different scales were you used to measure self
objectification The Self-Objectification
Questionnaire (Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn,
Twenge 1998) and the Multidimensional Body-Self
Relations Appearance Subscale (Brown, Cash,
Mikulka, 1990). Other-Objectification was also
measured using two separate scales. The
Self-Objectification Questionnaire as described
above, was modified to be used as a measure of
other-objectification. The second
other-objectification questionnaire was developed
to asses how attractive the participant thought
the target was, and it also was designed to
assess personal qualities that could essentially
not be determined by the picture that the
participants saw alone. Three questionnaires
were used as control factors. A mood scale, the
Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and
the BEM Sex Role Inventory (to asses masculinity
and femininity, Bem, 1974) were also used. Three
dummy questionnaires were also embedded to ensure
the participants did not know what we were
studying. Magazine frequency, post-mood, and
feelings felt during the last month were the
three questionnaires used. Procedure Subjects
read and signed a consent form, and then began
the experiment. Subjects provided demographic
information, took Fredricksons Self-
Objectification, followed by magazine
preferences, BEM, Frederickson's
Other-Objectification, mood, self-esteem, and
MSRQ self-objectification Finally, the subjects
viewed three target female models photos and
three male model photos and rated them on
perceived characteristics such as attractiveness,
loyalty, and fitness.
Contrary to the hypothesis, there was no a
correlation between self-objectification and
other-objectification. Failure to find a direct
link between the two goes against past research
and theory. There were two characteristics that
were statistically significant for both men and
women who had high self-objectification and
other-objectification. Men and women who
reported always looking in a mirror before
leaving the house scored high on the
other-objectification scale. The hypothesis that
men who objectified themselves would objectify
other male and female models was partially
supported there was a correlation between men
who self-objectify themselves and men who
objectified the female model. However, women
still objectified other women at a higher rate
then men did. It is disturbing to se that
because of the socialization process women have
begun to internalize objectification and use it
against other women. It has been thought that men
are the root cause of objectification however
this could be changing because ideals and values
of objectification have been passed along to
women. You see the results of this when you look
at the self-objectification rates which are
higher among women then men in this study. It
was also hypothesized that women will objectify
themselves and other women but not other men.
Once again, this was partially supported. As
mentioned above women did objectify other women
and at a high rate. However, they also
objectified other men at a higher rate then men
did. This could be due to the fact that men are
increasingly being objectified in the media and
other aspects of life. However, we are unsure as
to why men are not being affected by this and
objectifying other men as this goes against
social role theory. A possible explanation of
this is that male objectification is such a new
phenomenon, consequently within a couple of
years, we will see men more affected by this
(Pope, Phillips, Olivarida, 2001). This
experiment was a good stepping stone. It
suggests that there are differences in self and
other-objectification. Since basic research has
been done on sex differences in objectification
more research needs to be done to examine the
problem further and suggest possible explanations
for the sex differences in objectification.
Do you ever make judgments about somebody by the
way they look, or by what they are wearing? If
you do then you may be objectifying them.
Objectification theory states that society
socializes women to see their bodies as sexual
objects to be looked at (Fredricksons Roberts,
1997). Since women are portrayed as sexual
objects, social role theory would suggest that
both men and women alike are socialized to view
themselves in accordance with these social roles
(Kimmel, 2001). Objectification is not limited
to women It effects men as well. In fact men are
objectified by other men and by themselves. Men
spend a lot of time comparing themselves to other
men because of the competition between men to
find a woman (Kimmel, 2001). Men will go to
great extents to improve their body. Examples of
this include extreme weightlifting and steroid
use (Olivarida, 2002). The ideal male figure is
becoming harder to obtain due to the increase in
male sexualization in the media. Consequently,
self-objectification within males is increasing
as a whole (Bordo, 1999). A study done on school
age children looked at how boys rated photos of
other boys. It was found that boys are
increasing becoming more critical of their bodies
as well as other boys bodies (Murren, Smolak,
Mills, Good, 2003). Pope, Phillips, and
Olivardia (2000) found similar findings. Men
underestimated their own body size while they
overestimated the size of the average mans body.
Women on the other hand not only objectify
themselves and other women, but they are
objectified by men. Women objectify themselves
because they have been socialized to believe that
they need men in their lives (Eagly, 1987) and
women feel that men are looking for the perfect
body. This causes women to be very critical of
their bodies and do things such as extreme
dieting and exercise to improve themselves
(Beebe, Hombeck, Lane, Rosa, 1996). One way
women measure their bodies is to compare
themselves to other women. This leads women to
be critical and to objectify other women.
Tiggerman (2001) demonstrated this when she had
women imagine themselves in both social and
non-social body-focused situations. Those women
who were in the body-focused situations reported
higher anxiety and body dissatisfaction along
with lower self-esteem. In another study women
reported high levels of anxiety and body
dissatisfaction when they thought they were going
to be interviewed by a male compared to a female
(Calogero, 2004). Since objectification has
become wide spread across both sexes it is
necessary to take a closer look at who is doing
the objectifying and at what rate. We
hypothesized that there will be a correlation
between self-objectification and
other-objectification. Moreover, men will
objectify other men and women at a higher rate
than women, while women will objectify themselves
at a higher rate than men do.
Results indicated that overall women
self-objectify themselves at a higher rate then
men do, while men objectify other women at a
higher rate. However, there was no significant
correlation found between the rate at which
someone self-objectified and the rate at which
someone objectified others, in both sexes.
Although, there was a significant correlation a
.03 between objectification of other males and
females in both sexes. If you objectified other
men you were also likely to objectify other
Presented at the 2006 American Psychological
Associations Annual Conference. New Orleans,
LA. Email
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