ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (1): 93-100.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.00093

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Self-Objectification: Effects on Women's Mental Health and Hypothesized Mechanisms

ZHENG Panpan; LYU Zhenyong; Todd JACKSON   

  1. (Faculty of Psychological Science, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China)
  • Received:2014-04-08 Online:2015-01-15 Published:2015-01-15
  • Contact: Todd Jackson, E-mail:


From a socio-cultural perspective, sexual objectification theory implicates experiences of gender-role socialization and sexual objectification as key influences on the development of mental health problems. Self-objectified women come to treat themselves as objects to be looked upon and continually evaluated based on their physical appearance which they perceive to fall short of internalized, culturally- prescribed ideals. This discrepancy results in body shame, anxiety, reduced flow experiences and lower internal bodily awareness, and ultimately leads to mental health problems, such as eating disorders, depression, sexual dysfunction and substance abuse. Recent research has demonstrated robust correlations between self-objectification and mental health problems in women and has generated hypotheses about underlying mechanisms. However, future research is needed to assess generalizability to culturally-diverse samples, assess causal relations via experimental manipulations of central constructs, and investigate neural correlates using neuroimaging technology. In addition, strategies aiming to reduce self-objectification should be evaluated to prevent and treat consequences of sexual objectification.

Key words: sexual objectification, self-objectification, women’s mental health