Consistent with objectification theory, the primary goal of the present study was to investigate the role of perceived humanization from one’s intimate partner as a predictor of depression (i.e., symptom severity), eating disorders (i.e., body dissatisfaction), and sexual dysfunction (i.e., dissatisfaction with quality of the sexual relationship) during pregnancy through decreased self-objectification. We tested our hypotheses within a dyadic framework, considering the respective contributions of humanization perceived by each partner to self-objectification and well-being in 159 U.S. heterosexual couples. Results converged with research linking partner humanization to lower levels of self-objectification in women. Further, feeling humanized by one’s partner also decreased self-objectification in men. Subsequently, lower levels of self-objectification were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and body dissatisfaction for both men and women and higher levels of sexual satisfaction for women. Our study also revealed the complex role of self-objectification in couple relationships: Less self-objectification by women, related to humanization from one’s partner, was associated with fewer depressive symptoms reported by their partners, but less self-objectification by men was, paradoxically, associated with more depressive symptoms reported by their partners. Results have implications for practitioners implementing couple and family interventions with pregnant women and their partners.
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This research was funded by several internal funding mechanisms awarded to PI Rebecca L. Brock from the UNL Department of Psychology, the Nebraska Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Development Fund, and the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development. We thank the families who participated in this research and the entire team of research assistants who contributed to various stages of the study. In particular, we thank Jennifer Blake and Kailee Groshans for project coordination, and Molly Franz and Michelle Haikalis for contributions to literature review and data preparation.
This research was funded by several internal funding mechanisms awarded to PI Rebecca L. Brock from the UNL Department of Psychology, the Nebraska Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Development Fund, and the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development.
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This research involved human participants. Research was approved by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institutional Review Board. IRB Approval #: 20151215700EP. Title: Family Development Project.
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Brock, R.L., Ramsdell, E.L., Sáez, G. et al. Perceived Humanization by Intimate Partners during Pregnancy Is Associated with fewer Depressive Symptoms, Less Body Dissatisfaction, and Greater Sexual Satisfaction through Reduced Self-Objectification. Sex Roles 84, 285–298 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-020-01166-6