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Mere Exposure: Gender Differences in the Negative Effects of Priming a State of Self-Objectification

Abstract

Objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) holds that American culture coaxes women to develop observers' views of their bodies. The present study was designed to test whether a state of self-objectification can be automatically activated by subtle exposure to objectifying words. A state of self-objectification or of bodily empowerment was primed by the use of a scrambled sentence task. Women's ratings of negative emotions were higher and their ratings of the appeal of physical sex lower when primed with self-objectification than when primed with body competence. Men's ratings were unaffected by the primes. The results of this study suggest that mere exposure to objectifying media can play a significant role in the initiation of a self-objectified state along with its attendant psychological consequences for women.

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Correspondence to Tomi-Ann Roberts.

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Roberts, TA., Gettman, J.Y. Mere Exposure: Gender Differences in the Negative Effects of Priming a State of Self-Objectification. Sex Roles 51, 17–27 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SERS.0000032306.20462.22

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SERS.0000032306.20462.22

  • Gender
  • objectification
  • media
  • priming