Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2023

DOI: 10.1177/03616843231165476


Copyright © 2023 Frances C. Calkins, Sarah J. Gervais, Gemma Sáez , Meredith J. Martin, M. Meghan Davidson, and Rebecca L. Brock. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Sexual objectification (i.e., reducing a person to their appearance, body, or sex appeal and functions) is a significant risk factor for negative health outcomes. In the present investigation, we examined multiple manifestations of objectification (i.e., objectification of others, objectification of self, and objectification by others) in an interpersonal context. We merged objectification theory with attachment theory, one of the most prominent theories of close relationships, and propose that sexual objectification can shed light on attachment processes (and vice versa). To bolster this conceptual overlap, we tested this novel, integrated framework across two independent samples of women and men including (a) a sample of 813 undergraduate students—both partnered and single—who completed self-report questionnaires of attachment security and multiple forms of objectification and (b) a sample of 159 committed couples navigating pregnancy who were observed during naturalistic interactions to assess attachment security and completed self-report questionnaires of attachment security and objectification (including partner objectification). Results from both studies demonstrate the utility of our proposed conceptual framework linking attachment insecurity to increased risk for both enacting and experiencing objectification. The most compelling evidence emerged for (a) a link between attachment anxiety and self-objectification with moderate effect sizes across both samples, and (b) an association between a less secure base within the couple relationship during pregnancy and feeling more objectified by one’s partner as well as less humanized (i.e., feeling that your partner values you more for your physical attributes and less for your non-physical attributes).

Included in

Psychology Commons