Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Self and Identity 2020

DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2020.1787220


Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


According to objectification theory, being treated as an object leads women to engage in self-objectification, which in turn increases body surveillance and body shame, impairing women’s mental health. While most studies focusing on self-objectification rely heavily on Western populations that emphasize individualism, the current work investigates the phenomenon of body surveillance and body shame in a cross-cultural framework, involving a comparison between American, Belgian, Russian, and Thai women (N = 605). This study aims to highlight two predictors – cultural orientation and self-compassion. Results indicate that greater endorsement of vertical individualism is related to body surveillance for American, Belgian, and Russian women; however, this relation occurred in the opposite direction for Thai women. Moreover, Americans’ higher levels of body surveillance and body shame coexist with less self-compassion, whereas the reverse was true for Thais. We also tested a complementary moderation model and found that the relation between body surveillance and body shame was moderated by self-compassion, further pointing to the important role of self-compassion in the model posited by objectification theory. As a result, discussion centers on a call for future research to more closely examine how self-objectification and its correlates unfold among women of various cultural backgrounds.

Includes Supplementary Materials.