Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder: An Initial Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol, Attractiveness, Warmth, and Competence on the Objectifying Gaze in Men

Abstract

Despite literature revealing the adverse consequences of objectifying gazes for women, little work has empirically examined origins of objectifying gazes by perceivers. Integrating alcohol myopia and objectification theories, we examined the effects of alcohol as well as perceived female attractiveness, warmth, and competence on objectifying gazes. Specifically, male undergraduates (n = 49) from a large U.S. Midwestern university were administered either an alcoholic or placebo beverage. After consumption, participants were asked to focus on the appearance or personality (counterbalanced) of pictured women who were previously rated as high, average, or low in attractiveness, warmth, and competence. Replicating previous work, appearance focus increased objectifying gazes as measured by decreased visual dwell time on women’s faces and increased dwell time on women’s bodies. Additionally, alcohol increased objectifying gazes. Whereas greater perceived attractiveness increased objectifying gazes, more perceived warmth and perceived competence decreased objectifying gazes. Furthermore, the effects of warmth and competence perceptions on objectifying gazes were moderated by alcohol condition; intoxicated participants objectified women low in warmth and competence to a greater extent than did sober participants. Implications for understanding men’s objectifying perceptions of women are addressed, shedding light on potential interventions for clinicians and policymakers to reduce alcohol-involved objectification and related sexual aggression.

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Acknowledgements

This project was supported by a grant to the fifth and sixth authors by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Research and Economic Development. We would also like to thank Gwenith Nuss and Mark Mills for their assistance with developing the stimuli and procedure as well as our undergraduate research assistants, Mandy Boothe, Ellen Dudley, Marco Gullickson, Autumn Kramer, Tran Le, Lindsay Undeland, Elise Polly, whom were essential in the data collection process.

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Correspondence to Abigail R. Riemer.

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All of the research reported in the manuscript complies with APA ethical standards in the treatment of human participants. The Institutional Review Board of the University at which this study was conducted approved of the study and informed consent procedures.

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Riemer, A.R., Haikalis, M., Franz, M.R. et al. Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder: An Initial Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol, Attractiveness, Warmth, and Competence on the Objectifying Gaze in Men. Sex Roles 79, 449–463 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0876-2

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Keywords

  • Objectification
  • Myopia
  • Eye fixation
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Competence
  • Impression formation
  • Humanization