A Cross-cultural Study of Biological, Psychological, and Social Antecedents of Self-objectification in Italy and Romania
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Although there is extensive documentation of the damaging psychological consequences of self-objectification, more research is needed to explain its antecedents. With the present study we (a) investigated the correlates of self-objectification by analyzing biological (age and body-mass index), psychological (self-esteem), and sociocultural dimensions (influence of mass media and significant others) in women and men; (b) examined the role of culture in self-objectification processes; and (c) tested the effect of gender as a moderator in the relationship between both psychological and sociocultural dimensions and self-objectification. A total of 770 heterosexual adults residing in Italy and Romania completed a self-reported questionnaire. Self-objectification was operationalized as Body Surveillance (BS) and Body Shame (BSH); however, because the the BS subscale was not satisfactorily reliable, our focus was restricted to BSH. The correlates of self-objectification for BSH were analyzed separately by nationality in regression models. Overall, BSH emerged as a process influenced by agents rooted in biological and psychological domains, as well as in social and cultural domains. High educational level and high self-esteem (this last particularly in men) correlated with reduced body shame for the Romanian sample, whereas within the Italian sample, the internalization of media standards and influence of significant others emerged as risk factors for body shame. Taken together, these findings underline the need to identify cross-cultural constants of self-objectification, as well as differences across contexts, in order to better understand self-objectification and to promote protective factors in specific culturally situated interventions.
KeywordsObjectification Self-objectification Body shame Body surveillance Cultural differences
We would like to express our warm thanks to our colleague Silvia Testa for her valuable advice.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
We declare that the research we ran match all the ethical standards of the two countries involved.
We submitted the project to the Ethical Board of the University of Turin (PI) that approved it.
Conflict of Interest
This article contains no conflict of interest among the authors.
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