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Body Image, Body Objectification, and Depression

11 December 2006


The present study tested the full objectification theory model, as elaborated by Fredrickson and Roberts (1997), as it applied to the proposed mental health consequence of depression, and as it might be extended to a male population. Results supported some components of the model, but not the model in its entirety. The construct of self objectification was observed to have similar applicability to men and women in relationship to depression. This finding was consistent with recent literature that addresses the implications of the changing sociocultural influence (e.g., the media) on male body image and sexual objectification. Support was found for some, but not all, of the originally proposed mediating subjective psychological experiences that were thought to lead to depression. In this study, there was strong support for appearance anxiety, and weak support for peak motivational states (flow) as mediators of the relationship between self-objectification and depression, but no support for decreased awareness of internal bodily states. There was additional strong evidence for body shame as a mediator of the above relationship; however, in this sample, the direction of the relationship was counter to prediction and created some question as to how exactly the experience of body shame operates. Lastly, expected gender differences in the degree of self-objectification experienced were not found. While women in this sample did report more self objectification, the difference was not statistically significant. This finding was in contrast to early research on self-objectification that demonstrated significant differences between men and women, and that did not find evidence for self-objectification processes in men.


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