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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Jul;75(1):269-84.

That swimsuit becomes you: sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1109, USA. blf@umich.edu


Objectification theory (B. L. Fredrickson & T. Roberts, 1997) posits that American culture socializes women to adopt observers' perspectives on their physical selves. This self-objectification is hypothesized to (a) produce body shame, which in turn leads to restrained eating, and (b) consume attentional resources, which is manifested in diminished mental performance. Two experiments manipulated self-objectification by having participants try on a swimsuit or a sweater. Experiment 1 tested 72 women and found that self-objectification increased body shame, which in turn predicted restrained eating. Experiment 2 tested 42 women and 40 men and found that these effects on body shame and restrained eating replicated for women only. Additionally, self-objectification diminished math performance for women only. Discussion centers on the causes and consequences of objectifying women's bodies.

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