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Objectification theory: A review of the literature

26 July 2004


This thesis examines the impact of sexual objectification on women's mental health. It presents, compares, and contrasts two theoretical frameworks for understanding women's objectification experiences (objectification theory and objectified body consciousness) and their impact on women's mental health. These theories propose models that explain how objectifying treatment can lead women to internalize a third person perspective on themselves, a process called self-objectification. Self-objectification has some negative psychological consequences (shame, anxiety, absence of peak motivational states, insensitivity to internal cues) that are hypothesized to increase women's risk for eating disorders, unipolar depression, and sexual dysfunction. This thesis reviews and integrates the findings of empirical tests of these models. Results provide direct support for objectification theory hypotheses that predict disordered eating and some indirect support for hypotheses predicting depression and sexual dysfunction.


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