Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder: An Initial Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol, Attractiveness, Warmth, and Competence on the Objectifying Gaze in Men
Despite literature revealing the adverse consequences of objectifying gazes for women, little work has empirically examined origins of objectifying gazes by perceivers. Integrating alcohol myopia and objectification theories, we examined the effects of alcohol as well as perceived female attractiveness, warmth, and competence on objectifying gazes. Specifically, male undergraduates (n = 49) from a large U.S. Midwestern university were administered either an alcoholic or placebo beverage. After consumption, participants were asked to focus on the appearance or personality (counterbalanced) of pictured women who were previously rated as high, average, or low in attractiveness, warmth, and competence. Replicating previous work, appearance focus increased objectifying gazes as measured by decreased visual dwell time on women’s faces and increased dwell time on women’s bodies. Additionally, alcohol increased objectifying gazes. Whereas greater perceived attractiveness increased objectifying gazes, more perceived warmth and perceived competence decreased objectifying gazes. Furthermore, the effects of warmth and competence perceptions on objectifying gazes were moderated by alcohol condition; intoxicated participants objectified women low in warmth and competence to a greater extent than did sober participants. Implications for understanding men’s objectifying perceptions of women are addressed, shedding light on potential interventions for clinicians and policymakers to reduce alcohol-involved objectification and related sexual aggression.
KeywordsObjectification Myopia Eye fixation Alcohol intoxication Physical attractiveness Competence Impression formation Humanization
This project was supported by a grant to the fifth and sixth authors by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Research and Economic Development. We would also like to thank Gwenith Nuss and Mark Mills for their assistance with developing the stimuli and procedure as well as our undergraduate research assistants, Mandy Boothe, Ellen Dudley, Marco Gullickson, Autumn Kramer, Tran Le, Lindsay Undeland, Elise Polly, whom were essential in the data collection process.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All of the research reported in the manuscript complies with APA ethical standards in the treatment of human participants. The Institutional Review Board of the University at which this study was conducted approved of the study and informed consent procedures.
- Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Bartky, S. L. (1990). Femininity and domination: Studies in the phenomenology of oppression. New-York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Bodenhausen, G. V., Macrae, C. N., & Garst, J. (1997). Stereotypes in thought and deed: Social-cognitive origins of intergroup discrimination. In C. Sedikides, J. Schopler, & C. A. Insko (Eds.), Intergroup cognition and intergroup behavior. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Bradlyn, A., & Young, L. (1983). Parameters influencing the effectiveness of the balanced placebo design in alcohol research. In L. A. Pohorecky & J. Brick (Eds.), Stress and alcohol use (pp. 87–103). New York: Elsevier Biomedical.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Fillmore, M. T., & Vogel-Sprott, M. (1998). Behavioral impairment under alcohol: Cognitive and pharmacokinetic factors. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 22, 1476–1482. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03938.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 878–902. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-35188.8.131.528.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fiske, S. T., & Neuberg, S. L. (1990). A continuum of impression formation, from category-based to individuating processes: Influences of information and motivation on attention and interpretation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 23, 1–74. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Franz, M. R., Haikalis, M., Riemer, A. R., Parrott, D. J., Gervais, S. J., & DiLillo, D. (2017). Further validation of a laboratory analog sexual aggression task: Associations with novel risk factors for sexual violence. Violence and Victims (in press).Google Scholar
- Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T.-A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gallagher, K. E., Hudepohl, A. D., & Parrott, D. J. (2010). Power of being present: The role of mindfulness on the relation between men’s alcohol use and sexual aggression toward intimate partners. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 405–413. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20351.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Haslam, N., & Loughnan, S. (2014). Dehumanization and infrahumanization. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 399–423. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115045.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kaschak, E. (1992). Engendered lives: A new psychology of women’s experience. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. M. G., Russell, E. M., Al-Shawaf, L., & Buss, D. (2016). Lumbar curvature: A previously undiscovered standard of attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 345–350. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.01.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Miller, G. F. (1988). How mate choice shaped human nature: A review of sexual selection and human evolution. In C. Crawford & D. Krebs (Eds.), Evolution and human behavior: Ideas, issues, and applications (pp. 87–93). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Noll, S. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). A mediational model linking self-objectification, body shame, and disordered eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 623–636. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1998.tb00181.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Testa, M., Fillmore, M. T., Norris, J., Abbey, A., Curtin, J. J., Leonard, K. E., … Hayman, L. W. (2006). Understanding alcohol expectancy effects: Revisiting the placebo condition. Alcohol Clinical Experimental Research, 30, 339–248. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530.0277.2006.00039.x.