Grounded in aspects of objectification theory, social learning theory, and attachment theory, we investigated the extent to which mothers’ and daughters’ self-objectification were related to one another’s and also identified three potential intervening factors. Specifically, we hypothesized a (statistical) direct effect of mothers’ self-objectification on that of their daughters’ (H1), as well as investigated a conditional direct effect (i.e., maternal care) (H2) and two indirect effects (i.e., co-rumination and mothers’ weight concerns) (H3) as intervening factors that may help explain the relationship between mothers’ and daughters’ self-objectification. A sample of 199 U.S. undergraduate women and their mothers completed an online survey; daughters and mothers mean ages were 19.42 and 50.15, respectively, with a majority of them reporting a normal body mass index (daughters: 23.05; mothers: 25.74) and being White/Caucasian (daughters: 79.4 %; mothers: 80.9 %). The results generally supported the hypotheses. First, H1 was confirmed: Mothers’ and daughters’ self-objectification were positively related to one another’s. Second, perceived maternal care was found to moderate this relationship, such that daughters reported higher levels of self-objectification when they perceived their mothers to be less caring; thus, H2 was confirmed. Third, H3 was partially confirmed: Perceived co-rumination about weight with mothers, but not perceived mothers’ weight-related concerns, was found to be a significant mediator. These results suggest that mothers can serve as protective or inhibitory factors in daughters’ experience of self-objectification depending on mothers’ level of care and their direct communication with their daughters’ about their bodies.
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Because our study involved human subjects, we followed the guidelines for seeking approval from the Institutional Review Board. Upon approval of IRB, all participants read and agreed to the informed consent presented to them before completing this study.
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Arroyo, A., Andersen, K.K. The Relationship between Mother-Daughter Self-Objectification: Identifying Direct, Indirect, and Conditional Direct Effects. Sex Roles 74, 231–241 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0554-1