Sex Roles

, Volume 81, Issue 1–2, pp 97–108 | Cite as

Body Surveillance Predicts Men’s and Women’s Perceived Loneliness: A Serial Mediation Model

  • Fei TengEmail author
  • Wenyang Gao
  • Xishan Huang
  • Kai-Tak Poon
Original Article


Previous research on self-objectification mainly focuses on its influences on intrapersonal psychological distress whereas our study examined whether self-objectification would influence interpersonal distress (i.e., loneliness) and its corresponding mechanisms in a sample of American women and men recruited with MTurk. Participants’ self-objectification was indexed by their level of body surveillance, and we proposed that body surveillance would increase women’s and men’s tendency to experience shame about their body and decrease their general self-esteem, which would in turn predict their level of loneliness. A total of 373 Americans (235 women; Mdnage = 33 years-old, range = 18–77) participated in the present study, and the results provided support for the proposed theoretical model. Specifically, we found that body surveillance positively predicted people’s body shame, and body shame negatively predicted self-esteem, which in turn predicted people’s loneliness. Moreover, this mediational model was not different between men and women. These results expand the scope of investigation by incorporating male samples, and they suggest that in addition to intrapersonal consequences, self-objectification can also influence people’s interpersonal well-being. Implications were discussed.


Self-objectification Body surveillance Loneliness Body shame Self-esteem 



The present research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC:31600916), The Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science Project (MOE: 16YJC630111), Guizhou Confucius Academy: The project on the relation between Yangming school of Mind and Social psychology (KXTXT201604).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

We wish to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication. The manuscript has been read and approved by all named authors.

Informed Consent

All the human participants involved in this research provided their consent before they participated in this research and were fully debriefed at the end of the research.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Teng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wenyang Gao
    • 1
  • Xishan Huang
    • 1
  • Kai-Tak Poon
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Psychology, Center for Studies of Psychological Application, Guangdong Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, The Base of Psychological Services and Counseling for “Happiness” in GuangzhouSouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Centre for Psychosocial HealthThe Education University of Hong KongTing KokHong Kong

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