Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Fall 2023


Hefner, L. (2023). Beneath the Surface: An Investigation into the Relation Between Power, Dehumanization, and Objectification in and Initial Social Interaction. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Lillian Hefner 2023.


Objectification theory suggests that women are disproportionately affected by objectification leading them to experience more negative health outcomes such as depression and eating disorders. Further research on objectification and synthesis of leading theories in the area suggest that power may be one factor likely to predict the objectification and dehumanization of women. One important dimension of this objectification and dehumanization is the environment in which it occurs. Few studies examine a social/dating context as the current study does. We expected the men in the study who felt a stronger sense of power during the interaction would exhibit more objectification of the female confederate. Similarly, we expected men who felt a stronger sense of power during the interaction would exhibit more dehumanization towards the female confederate. Results helped to expand the knowledge of predicting objectification and dehumanization. Contrary to our hypothesis, dehumanization was predicted by a low sense of power, potentially suggesting that men dehumanize women as a way to lash out against a woman who may be seen as having more power than him and to put her below themselves.