Previous research shows that people objectify strangers when led to feel uncertain about their ability to positively relate to those targets-termed subjectivity uncertainty. The current research goes further to examine whether, in the context of close relationships, subjectivity uncertainty causes people to adopt simplified perceptions of a relationship partner. Participants primed with subjectivity uncertainty about a relationship partner objectified that person more than participants primed with uncertainty about non-subjective aspects of their relationship (Study 1), subjectivity uncertainty about a different target (Study 2), or negative feelings about the relationship (Study 3). Mediation analyses showed that felt subjectivity uncertainty motivated these simplified perceptions (Studies 1 and 2) and that they are not the result of disliking the target (Study 3). These findings suggest that a desire to establish close relationships, coupled with uncertainty about one's ability to do so, may ironically motivate people to objectify close others.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology