, Volume 67, Issue 3-4, pp 222-235
Date: 27 May 2012

Social Comparison and the ‘Circle of Objectification’

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test a new theoretical model that integrates self-objectification, objectification of others, and social comparison as contributors to the development and maintenance of body image disturbance and disordered eating behavior. Within the new theoretical model, self-objectification, objectification of others, and social comparison are conceptualized as a self-perpetuating cycle, rather than as processes that occur independently of one another. Measures of self-objectification, objectification of others, social comparison, body shame, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorder symptomatology were completed by 549 female students between the ages of 18 and 30 years from a large university in the southeastern United States. Structural equation modeling with nested model comparisons was used to examine the fit of the new theoretical model relative to less complex models which contain only relationships which have received previous attention in the research literature (e.g., the relationship between self-objectification and body shame). Results indicated that the new theoretical model demonstrates good fit for the data and that the fit of this model is significantly better than the original model suggested by the literature. This model also brings together two distinct lines of research and offers a more complete understanding of processes underlying women’s body image and eating behavior. Implications for clinical work as well as theory and measurement are discussed.