Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 45-53

First online:

The Role of Self-objectification in Women’s Depression: A Test of Objectification Theory

  • Dawn M. SzymanskiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Tennessee—Knoxville Email author 
  • , Stacy L. HenningAffiliated withUniversity of Missouri—St. Louis

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Objectification Theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21:173–206, 1997) postulates that sexual objectification of women and girls in US culture contributes to women’s mental health problems indirectly through women’s internalization of objectifying experiences or self-objectification. The purpose of this study was to test the model proposed in Objectification Theory as it applies to depression in women. A path analysis revealed that self-objectification decreased with age and led to habitual body monitoring, which led to a reduced sense of flow, greater body shame, and greater appearance anxiety. Less flow, greater body shame, and greater appearance anxiety led to depression. No significant pathways were found for the theorized relationships between the self-objectification measures and internal awareness or between internal awareness and depression. In addition, we provide psychometric support for a newly created multiple-item Flow Scale to assess Csikszentmihalyi’s (Flow: The psychology of optimal experience, Harper, New York, 1990) description of the common characteristics of peak motivational states and optimal experience.


Flow states Peak motivational states Body shame