Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 56, Issue 9–10, pp 581–590 | Cite as

Use of Objectification Theory to Examine the Effects of a Media Literacy Intervention on Women

  • Becky L. ChomaEmail author
  • Mindi D. Foster
  • Eileen Radford
Original Article

Abstract

Although the impact of the media’s thin ideal on body image may be lessened by media literacy, empirical support for this is inconsistent. Objectification theory, which suggests that certain social situations serve to increase women’s self-objectification (i.e., viewing self from a third person perspective), was used as a framework to understand this inconsistency. In particular, it was hypothesized that media literacy may involve both negative (heightened self-objectification) and positive (well-being) effects. We used both qualitative and quantitative measures, and two studies showed that viewing the video Slim Hopes increased state self-objectification, as well as self-esteem and positive affect. Implications for effective media literacy and self-objectification are discussed.

Keywords

Media literacy Objectification theory Body image Self-esteem Awareness Well-being Mass media 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We thank SSHRC for their support for Study 1 through a Master’s Canadian Graduate Scholarship to the first author.

References

  1. Austin, E. W., & Johnson, K. K. (1997a). Effects of general and alcohol-specific media literacy training on children’s decision making about school. Journal of Health Communication, 2, 17–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin, E. W., & Johnson, K. K. (1997b). Immediate and delayed effects of media literacy training on third graders’ decision making for alcohol. Health Communication, 9, 323–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berel, S., & Irving, L. M. (1998). Media and disturbed eating: An analysis of media influence and implications for prevention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 18, 415–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Botta, R. A. (1999). Television images and adolescent girls’ body image disturbance. Journal of Communication, 49, 22–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, J. D., & Stern, S. R. (2002). Mass media and adolescent female sexuality. In G. M. Wingwood & R. J. DiClemente (Eds.), Handbook of women’s sexual and reproductive health. Issues in women health (pp. 93–112). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  6. Calogero, R. M. (2004). A test of objectification theory: The effect of the male gaze on appearance concerns in college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 16–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Calogero, R. M., Davis, W. N., & Thompson, J. K. (2005). The role of self-objectification in the experience of women with eating disorders. Sex Roles, 52, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cusumano, D. L., & Thompson, J. K. (1997). Body image and body shape ideals in magazines: Exposure, awareness, and internalization. Sex Roles, 37, 701–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Downing, N. E., & Rousch, K. L. (1985). From passive acceptance to active commitment: A model of feminist identity development for women. Counseling Psychologist, 13, 695–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fredrickson, B. L., Roberts, T., Noll, S. M., Quinn, D. M., & Twenge, J. M. (1998). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 269–284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. French, C. S., Perry, G. L., & Fulkerson, J. (1996). Self-esteem and change in body mass index over three years in a cohort of adolescents. Obesity Research, 4, 27–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gapinski, K. D., Brownell, K. D., & LaFrance, M. (2003). Body objectification and “fat talk”: Effects on emotion, motivation, and cognitive performance. Sex Roles, 48, 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garrow, J. S., & Webster, J. (1985). Quetelet’s index (W/H2) as a measure of fatness. International Journal of Obesity, 9, 147–153.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Gonzales, R., Glik, D., Davoudi, M., & Ang, A. (2004). Media literacy and public health: Integrating theory, research, and practice for tobacco control. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 189–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heatherton, T. F., & Polivy, J. (1991). Development and validation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 895–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hebl, M. R., King, E. B., & Lin, J. (2004). The swimsuit becomes us all: Ethnicity, gender, and vulnerability to self-objectification. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1322–1331.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heinberg, L. J., & Thompson, J. K. (1995). Body image and televised images of thinness and attractiveness: A controlled laboratory investigation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 14, 325–338.Google Scholar
  19. Heinberg, L. J., Thompson, J. K., & Stormer, S. (1995). Development and validation of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire (SATAQ). International Journal of Eating Disorders, 17, 81–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Irving, L. M. (1990). Mirror images: Effects of the standard of beauty on the self- and body-esteem of women exhibiting varying levels of bulimic symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 9, 230–242.Google Scholar
  21. Irving, L. M., & Berel, S. R. (2001). Comparison of media literacy programs to strengthen college women’s resistance to media images. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kilbourne, J. (1995). Slim Hopes: Advertising and the obsession with thinness [Video]. (Available from Media Education Foundation, 26 Centre Street, Northampton, MA 01060.).Google Scholar
  23. Leventhal, H., Watts, J. C., & Pagano, F. (1967). Effects of fear and instructions on how to cope with danger. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 313–321.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Levine, M. P., & Smolak, L. (1998). The mass media and disordered eating: Implications for prevention. In W. Vandereycken & G. Noordenbos (Eds.), The prevention of eating disorders (pp. 23–56). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Liberman, A., & Chaiken, S. (1992). Defensive processing of personally relevant health messages. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 669–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McKinley, N. M. (1998). Gender differences in undergraduates’ body esteem: The mediating effects of objectified body consciousness and actual/ideal weight discrepancy. Sex Roles, 39, 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morry, M. M., & Staska, S. L. (2001). Magazine exposure: Internalization, self-objectification, eating attitudes, and body satisfaction in male and female university students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 33, 269–279.Google Scholar
  28. Muehlenkamp, J. J., & Saris-Baglama, R. N. (2002). Self-objectification and its psychological outcomes for college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Muehlenkamp, J. J., Swanson, J. D., & Brausch, A. M. (2005). Self-objectification, risk-taking, and self-harm in college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 24–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Noll, S. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). A mediational model linking self-objectification, shame, and disordered eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 623–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Reinharz, S. (1992). Feminist methods in social research. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Roberts, T. (2004). Female trouble: The menstrual self-evaluation scale and women’s self-objectification. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 22–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roberts, T., & Gettman, J. T. (2004). Mere exposure: Gender differences in the negative effects of priming a state of self-objectification. Sex Roles, 51, 17–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sands, E. R., & Wardle, J. (2003). Internalization of ideal body shapes in 9–12-year old girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33, 193–204.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schimmack, U. (2001). Pleasure, displeasure, and mixed feelings: Are semantic opposites mutually exclusive? Cognition and Emotion, 15, 81–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Silverstein, B., Perdue, L., Peterson, B., & Kelly, E. (1986). The role of the mass media in promoting a thin standard of bodily attractiveness for women. Sex Roles, 14, 519–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., & Schermer, F. (1998). Lessons from lessons: An evaluation of an elementary school prevention program. In W. Vandereycken & G. Noordenbos (Eds.), The prevention of eating disorders (pp. 137–172). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Stice, E., & Shaw, H. (2004). Eating disorder prevention programs: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 206–227.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Strelan, P., Mehaffey, S. J., & Tiggemann, M. (2003). Self-objectification and esteem in young women: The mediating role of reasons for exercise. Sex Roles, 48, 89–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tiggemann, M., Gardiner, M., & Slater, A. (2000). “I would rather be a size 10 than have straight A’s”: A focus group study of adolescent girls’ wish to be thinner. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 645–659.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tiggemann, M., & McGill, B. (2004). The role of social comparison in the effect of magazine advertisements on women’s mood and body dissatisfaction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2001). A test of objectification theory in former dancers and non-dancers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Voojis, M. W., & van der Voort, T. H. A. (1993). Learning about television violence: The impact of a critical viewing curriculum on children’s attitudinal judgements of crime series. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 26, 133–142.Google Scholar
  46. Wade, T. D., Davidson, S., & O’Dea, J. A. (2003). A preliminary controlled evaluation of a school-based media literacy program and self-esteem program for reducing eating disorder risk factors. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33, 371–383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Westkott, M. (1983). Women’s studies as a strategy for change: Between criticism and vision. In G. Bowles & R. Duelli Klein (Eds.), Theories of women’s studies (pp. 210–218). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Wilcox, K., & Laird, J. D. (2000). The impact of media images of super-slender women on women’s self-esteem: Identification, social comparison, and self-perception. Journal of Research in Personality, 34, 278–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  51. Yamamiya, Y., Cash, T. F., Melnyk, S. E., Posavac, H. D., & Posavac, S. S. (2005). Women’s exposure to thin-and-beautiful media images: Body image effects of media-ideal internalization and impact-reduction interventions. Body Image, 2, 74–80.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Becky L. Choma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mindi D. Foster
    • 2
  • Eileen Radford
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations