“Look in my eyes. I said in my eyes!”: Antecedents and Consequences of (Self-) Objectification


Objectification is a phenomenon exerting a major impact on social perception and moral concern. After a decade of studies centered on the consequences experienced by the targets of objectification, a new trend of research has focused on the psychology of the objectifiers (i.e., people who objectify). The few studies conducted in this area indicate that sexual objectification leads to diminished attribution of humanness and moral concern, and changes the way people look at bodies. Future research should aim at further examining the interpersonal consequences of this phenomenon (e.g., does sexual objectification impact the perception of women in everyday life?). Moreover, objectification is not necessarily detrimental to women (e.g., it is possible to capitalize on one’s “looks” to attain a goal). Thus, addressing when objectification becomes beneficial (e.g., Breines, Crocker, & Garcia, 2008), detrimental, or even pathological, is a major challenge facing future research.

Given that being exposed to objectifying pressures (e.g., media and gaze) is likely to be internalized, undermining physical and psychological well-being, especially among women, how can we fight it? It seems difficult to change the impression formation processes elicited by viewing sexualized women as this process is largely automatic. Nevertheless, one solution could involve urging advertisers to use sexualized images of women only when these are directly related to the product (e.g., for selling beauty products and underwear). Relying more on faces rather than bodies could actually increase the “personhood” of the product and, simultaneously, contribute to breaking the vicious circle of objectification.


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