Presentation Title

When Private Talk becomes Public: Quantifying the Effects of Objectifying Language

Faculty Mentor

Kristin Beals, Ph.D.

Start Date

18-11-2017 11:00 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 11:15 AM

Location

15-1807

Session

Social Science 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Oftentimes in society, women are viewed not as human beings, but rather tools and objects of male pleasure. Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) define sexual objectification (SO) as experiences that reduce women to their bodies, body parts, or body functions. Recent research has examined the objectifying gaze, an interpersonal form of SO in which one’s body is visually inspected by another person. Gervais, Vescio, and Allen (2011) found that the gaze caused decrements in women’s math performance. The current research examines a more indirect form of SO involving the overhearing of objectifying language, and its effects on math performance, verbal performance, body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction.

In this study, 66 female participants overheard a conversation between two male research assistants posing as other students. The conversation in the experimental condition centered around the men sexually objectifying women, while the conversation in the control condition involved the men describing a trip in nature. Following their exposure to either conversation, participants were assessed on their math and verbal performance and surveyed on their body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction.

ANOVA results comparing participants in the two conditions on each dependent variable revealed trends in the expected direction. Participants in the SO condition performed slightly poorer and reported slightly higher body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction than those in the control condition. Potential contributing factors to the statistical insignificance of the findings, such as setting and objectifying language used, are examined. Future directions are discussed with regard to assessing the prevalence of objectifying language, and manipulating sexual objectification by different means.

Keywords: Gender, Sexual Objectification, Academic Performance, Body Perception

Summary of research results to be presented

Between-subject analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were conducted to compare participants in the experimental and control conditions on math, and verbal performance, and body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction. Results revealed trends in the expected direction. Participants in the experimental condition performed slightly poorer in math and verbal assessment and additionally reported slightly higher body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction than those in the control condition. Contrary to the hypotheses presented by the researchers and previous findings on sexual objectification (Fredrickson et al., 1998; Gervais, Vescio, & Allen, 2011; Hebl, King, & Lin, 2004), however, the manipulation of objectifying language did not affect the dependent variables of interest in a statistically significant manner. These findings suggest that sexual objectification may not be substantially evoked by objectifying language or that the methodology used did not appropriately manipulate objectifying language.

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Nov 18th, 11:00 AM Nov 18th, 11:15 AM

When Private Talk becomes Public: Quantifying the Effects of Objectifying Language

15-1807

Oftentimes in society, women are viewed not as human beings, but rather tools and objects of male pleasure. Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) define sexual objectification (SO) as experiences that reduce women to their bodies, body parts, or body functions. Recent research has examined the objectifying gaze, an interpersonal form of SO in which one’s body is visually inspected by another person. Gervais, Vescio, and Allen (2011) found that the gaze caused decrements in women’s math performance. The current research examines a more indirect form of SO involving the overhearing of objectifying language, and its effects on math performance, verbal performance, body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction.

In this study, 66 female participants overheard a conversation between two male research assistants posing as other students. The conversation in the experimental condition centered around the men sexually objectifying women, while the conversation in the control condition involved the men describing a trip in nature. Following their exposure to either conversation, participants were assessed on their math and verbal performance and surveyed on their body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction.

ANOVA results comparing participants in the two conditions on each dependent variable revealed trends in the expected direction. Participants in the SO condition performed slightly poorer and reported slightly higher body surveillance, shame, and dissatisfaction than those in the control condition. Potential contributing factors to the statistical insignificance of the findings, such as setting and objectifying language used, are examined. Future directions are discussed with regard to assessing the prevalence of objectifying language, and manipulating sexual objectification by different means.

Keywords: Gender, Sexual Objectification, Academic Performance, Body Perception