Subjectivity uncertainty theory of objectification: Compensating for uncertainty about how to positively relate to others by downplaying their subjective attributes

Mark J. Landau, Daniel Sullivan, Lucas A. Keefer, Zachary K. Rothschild, Mark R. Osman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why do people sometimes view others as objects rather than complete persons? We propose that when people desire successful interactions with others, yet feel uncertain about their ability to navigate others' subjectivity, they downplay others' subjective attributes, focusing instead on their concrete attributes. This account suggests that objectification represents a response to uncertainty about one's ability to successfully interact with others distinct from: instrumentalizing others in response to power; dehumanizing others in response to threat; and simplifying others in response to general uncertainty. Supporting this account: When uncertainty about navigating women's subjectivity was salient, men showed increased sexual objectification to the extent that they desired successful interactions with women (Study 1) and were primed to view such interactions as self-esteem relevant (Study 2). In a workplace scenario, participants made uncertain about their managerial ability felt less confident about their ability to navigate employees' subjectivity and, consequently, role-objectified employees (Study 3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1246
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attitude
  • Interpersonal relation
  • Motivation/goal setting
  • Relationship cognition
  • Self-worth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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