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Objectification Theory

  • By: Tomi-Ann Roberts & Barbara L. Fredrickson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

Objectification theory is a framework for understanding the experience of being female in a culture that sexually objectifies the female body. The theory proposes that girls and women, more so than boys and men, are socialized to internalize an observer's perspective as their primary view of their physical selves. This perspective is referred to as self-objectification, which leads many girls and women to habitually monitor their bodies' outward appearance. This, in turn, leads to increased feelings of shame, anxiety, and disgust toward the self, reduces opportunities for peak motivational states, and diminishes awareness of internal bodily states. Accumulations of these experiences help account for a variety of mental health risks that disproportionately affect women: depression, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction. The theory also helps illuminate ...

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