Exposure to sexually objectifying media and body self-perceptions among college women: An examination of the selective exposure hypothesis and the role of moderating variables

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) contends that media that places women's bodies and appearance at a premium can acculturate women to self-objectify (i.e., to view the self primarily in terms of externally perceivable attributes), or to feel anxious or ashamed of their bodies. However, another unexplored possibility is that antecedent levels of self-objectification, appearance anxiety, and body shame could drive the selection or avoidance of sexually objectifying media. The goals of the present study were two-fold: first, to test the directionality of the associations between exposure to sexually objectifying media and body self-perceptions (i.e., does exposure to sexually objectifying media predict body self-perceptions or vice versa); and second, to explore the possible moderating influence of thin-ideal internalization, global self-esteem, and BMI on the relations between exposure to sexually objectifying media and body self-perceptions. A 2-year panel study of female undergraduates was conducted. The results show that Time-1 trait self-objectification, appearance anxiety, and body shame all negatively predicted Time-2 exposure to sexually objectifying media. Moreover, Time-1 exposure to sexually objectifying media predicted an increase in Time-2 trait self-objectification, particularly among women who were low in global self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalSex Roles
Volume55
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Media effects
  • Objectification theory
  • Sexual objectification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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