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Do Motives to Reinforce the Social Order Lead Women to Self-Objectify?

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Title: Do Motives to Reinforce the Social Order Lead Women to Self-Objectify?
Author: Stamarski, Cailin
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Son Hing, Leanne
Abstract: Self-objectification has been shown to be harmful to women, yet little research has examined the underlying mechanisms that drive women to self-objectify. Theorists have suggested that women self-objectify because of continual exposure to sexual objectification in society. However, how this occurs is unclear. System justification processes could be why women internalize gendered status differences and self-objectify. In two studies, system justification processes were experimentally manipulated by exposing participants to a system threat and then measuring participants’ self-objectification. If system justification processes are one reason why women self-objectify, then women (but not men) should self-objectify more after exposure to a system threat than after exposure to other forms of threat. In Experiment 1, we find partial support for the prediction that exposure to a system threat results in increased self-objectification among women when compared with a control condition. This was not the case for men as there were no differences between conditions on any of the self-objectification measures. Additionally, being exposed to another type of threat did not result in increased self-objectification for women or men. Findings from Experiment 2 were consistent with findings from Experiment 1, as women exposed to a system threat self-objectified more than women exposed to a control condition and to a no threat condition. There was also some evidence that this relation between system threat and self-objectification is mediated by benevolent sexism and that it is not mediated by hostile sexism. In addition, the relation does not seem to be moderated by social dominance orientation.
Date: 2022-01
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