Sex Roles

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 459-467

First online:

Gender Differences in Memory Perspectives: Evidence for Self-Objectification in Women

  • David M. Huebner
  • , Barbara L. Fredrickson

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This study tests Fredrickson and Roberts' (1997)assertion that cultural practices of sexuallyobjectifying women's bodies socialize women tointernalize an observer's perspective on their physicalselves. Autobiographical memories can contain imagesfrom two perspectives: the original, first personperspective (field images) and that of an outsideobserver (observer images) (Nigro and Neisser, 1983). We collected autobiographical memories for eventsin general and for specific, potentially objectifyingsituations from a predominantly European-American sampleof 138 female and 104 male students at a private university. Results demonstrated that femaleparticipants reported more observer imagery than maleparticipants both for memories in general and formemories of certain situations wherein women are likely to be sexually objectified. Women's and men'semotional responses to these situations were alsodifferent, with women reporting more negative affect,including shame and anxiety, and less positiveaffect.