Date of this Version
Published in Sex Roles 83 (2020), pp 739–753.
Although objectification is a common experience for women (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997), little is understood about how women perceive sources of objectifying commentary and behaviors. The current work provides a novel integration of objectification and consistency theories to understand how valence of sexual objectification and women’s feelings about sexual attention interact to predict perceptions of objectifying sources. In two online vignette studies with 121 and 110 U.S. women recruited through MTurk, female participants were asked to recall an experience of complimentary or critical objectification and report perceptions of source warmth, approach behavioral intentions, perceived overlap between the self and the source, and enjoyment of sexualization. Consistent with hypotheses, regression analyses revealed that reporting experiences of complimentary objectification led to more positive source perceptions among women who reported that they enjoy being sexualized relative to reporting experiences of critical objectification. Furthermore, path analyses revealed that self-other overlap emerged as a mechanism of women’s more positive source perceptions, with a significant indirect effect of self-other overlap emerging for the link between enjoyment of sexualization and warmth and approach in the complimentary objectification condition. The effects were replicated across two studies. The discussion centers on how understanding women’s objectifying source perceptions could illuminate when interpersonal objectification will lead to more experiences of objectification or women’s internalization of objectifying self-perceptions.