Responding to Sexual Objectification: The Role of Emotions in Influencing Willingness to Undertake Different Types of Action

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Abstract

Women may respond to being sexual objectified in different ways, such as confronting the perpetrator, ignoring the action, blaming oneself or considering the action as flattering. However, there has been little research looking at what predicts each of these different responses. The present research assessed the role of emotions in promoting and deterring different anticipated responses to sexual objectification. In both Studies 1 (n = 189) and 2 (n = 187), female participants were asked to imagine themselves in a situation where they received an inappropriate sexual comment. Participants then rated the emotions they believed they would feel and how they thought they would act in the situation. I found that expecting feelings of anger resulted in women thinking they would confront the perpetrator (i.e., undertake an active response) and that expecting disgust negatively predicted the belief that they would view the action as flattering (i.e., anticipate a benign response). By contrast, expecting shame resulted in women believing they would blame themselves (i.e., undertake a self-blame response). Study 2 also found that expecting pride was positively associated with anticipating a benign response. These findings suggest that the emotions that women expect to feel influence their anticipated responses to sexual objectification. It is, therefore, important to consider the emotional reactions that women have to instances of sexual objectification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-40
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles: A Journal of Research
Volume80
Issue number1-2
Early online date9 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

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