, Volume 51, Issue 1-2, pp 17-27

Mere Exposure: Gender Differences in the Negative Effects of Priming a State of Self-Objectification

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Objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) holds that American culture coaxes women to develop observers' views of their bodies. The present study was designed to test whether a state of self-objectification can be automatically activated by subtle exposure to objectifying words. A state of self-objectification or of bodily empowerment was primed by the use of a scrambled sentence task. Women's ratings of negative emotions were higher and their ratings of the appeal of physical sex lower when primed with self-objectification than when primed with body competence. Men's ratings were unaffected by the primes. The results of this study suggest that mere exposure to objectifying media can play a significant role in the initiation of a self-objectified state along with its attendant psychological consequences for women.