Evidence for an Association between Men’s Spontaneous Objectifying Gazing Behavior and their Endorsement of Objectifying Attitudes toward Women

Abstract

Despite growing scientific interest in the sexually objectifying male gaze, the relation between men’s gazing behavior and their sexually objectifying attitudes has not yet been examined. The present study addressed this gap in the literature. Sixty-one heterosexual Israeli men viewed photographs of female targets while their spontaneous eye movements were monitored to detect the amount of time they spent looking at the target’s sexual body parts versus face. They also completed a self-report measure of Men’s Objectification of Women. Consistent with feminist theorizing about the objectifying gaze, we found moderate associations between men’s gaze behavior and endorsement of sexually objectifying attitudes. These findings establish the construct validity of the measure of the objectifying gaze as the time spent staring at women’s bodies versus faces, which has been commonly used in previous research based on its face validity—yet without empirically testing whether it measures the theoretical construct of interest. Our findings contribute to the literature about the relations between attitudes and behaviors by shedding light on the association between explicit, self-reported versus more subtle, behavioral manifestations of men’s sexual objectification of women. Practically, they suggest that interventions to reduce sexual objectification should target both explicit attitudes and gaze behavior.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Omer Solomon for help with software and analysis.

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Bareket, O., Shnabel, N., Abeles, D. et al. Evidence for an Association between Men’s Spontaneous Objectifying Gazing Behavior and their Endorsement of Objectifying Attitudes toward Women. Sex Roles 81, 245–256 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0983-8

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Keywords

  • Sexual objectification
  • Male gaze
  • Objectifying gaze
  • Eye tracking
  • Explicit measures
  • Implicit measures