Submission Title

Effects of Body Shape on Literal Objectification: When Ideal May Be Less Than Ideal

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Psychology

Description

Objectification, or the tendency to adopt an externalized view of self/other, is a ubiquitous process disproportionately affecting women (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Recent work has examined literal objectification, defined as “any outcome in which a person is perceived as, or behaves, objectlike, relative to humanlike” (Heflick & Goldenberg, 2014, p. 225). Focusing on women’s physical appearance heightens literal objectification, including reduced perceptions of warmth, competence, and morality (Heflick et al., 2011).

We investigated whether participants’ ratings of literal objectification vary as a function of body type. Seventy-one college women (Mage = 19.23) viewed three photos of women, manipulated to depict low, average, and high ideal body shapes. Participants rated the degree to which each woman possessed competence, warmth and morality, and their desire to collaborate on a group project with them.

Average images were rated as significantly higher on warmth, morality, and collaboration desirability than high ideal and low ideal images, and marginally more competent than high ideal images. High ideal images were rated as significantly lower on warmth and marginally lower on collaboration desirability than low ideal images. Future research should extend this work to evaluate behavioral manifestations of literal objectification and explore what other factors might moderate these effects.

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Effects of Body Shape on Literal Objectification: When Ideal May Be Less Than Ideal

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Objectification, or the tendency to adopt an externalized view of self/other, is a ubiquitous process disproportionately affecting women (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Recent work has examined literal objectification, defined as “any outcome in which a person is perceived as, or behaves, objectlike, relative to humanlike” (Heflick & Goldenberg, 2014, p. 225). Focusing on women’s physical appearance heightens literal objectification, including reduced perceptions of warmth, competence, and morality (Heflick et al., 2011).

We investigated whether participants’ ratings of literal objectification vary as a function of body type. Seventy-one college women (Mage = 19.23) viewed three photos of women, manipulated to depict low, average, and high ideal body shapes. Participants rated the degree to which each woman possessed competence, warmth and morality, and their desire to collaborate on a group project with them.

Average images were rated as significantly higher on warmth, morality, and collaboration desirability than high ideal and low ideal images, and marginally more competent than high ideal images. High ideal images were rated as significantly lower on warmth and marginally lower on collaboration desirability than low ideal images. Future research should extend this work to evaluate behavioral manifestations of literal objectification and explore what other factors might moderate these effects.