Is objectification always harmful? Reactions to objectifying images and feedback as a function of self-objectification and mortality salience

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Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, ISSN: 0022-1031, Vol: 47, Issue: 2, Page: 443-448

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Goldenberg, Jamie L.; Cooper, Douglas P.; Heflick, Nathan A.; Routledge, Clay; Arndt, Jamie
Elsevier BV
Psychology; Social Sciences; Mortality salience; Objectification; Self-objectification; State self-esteem
article description
From the perspective of terror management theory, awareness of death induces a need for validation of important values. Thus, for women who place a high value on their appearance (e.g., high self-objectifiers), mortality salience should increase positive reactions to objectifying experiences relative to women who do not highly value appearance. Two studies supported this hypothesis. Self-objectification moderated favorable reactions to objectifying stimuli (Study 1) and state self-esteem in response to an objectifying comment (Study 2) when women were primed with death. Together, the studies illustrate the complexity of reactions to objectification and, by highlighting conditions in which objectification serves a psychological function, help to explain the pervasiveness of the phenomena.