A Cross-cultural Study of Biological, Psychological, and Social Antecedents of Self-objectification in Italy and Romania
- 324 Downloads
Although there is extensive documentation of the damaging psychological consequences of self-objectification, more research is needed to explain its antecedents. With the present study we (a) investigated the correlates of self-objectification by analyzing biological (age and body-mass index), psychological (self-esteem), and sociocultural dimensions (influence of mass media and significant others) in women and men; (b) examined the role of culture in self-objectification processes; and (c) tested the effect of gender as a moderator in the relationship between both psychological and sociocultural dimensions and self-objectification. A total of 770 heterosexual adults residing in Italy and Romania completed a self-reported questionnaire. Self-objectification was operationalized as Body Surveillance (BS) and Body Shame (BSH); however, because the the BS subscale was not satisfactorily reliable, our focus was restricted to BSH. The correlates of self-objectification for BSH were analyzed separately by nationality in regression models. Overall, BSH emerged as a process influenced by agents rooted in biological and psychological domains, as well as in social and cultural domains. High educational level and high self-esteem (this last particularly in men) correlated with reduced body shame for the Romanian sample, whereas within the Italian sample, the internalization of media standards and influence of significant others emerged as risk factors for body shame. Taken together, these findings underline the need to identify cross-cultural constants of self-objectification, as well as differences across contexts, in order to better understand self-objectification and to promote protective factors in specific culturally situated interventions.
KeywordsObjectification Self-objectification Body shame Body surveillance Cultural differences
We would like to express our warm thanks to our colleague Silvia Testa for her valuable advice.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
We declare that the research we ran match all the ethical standards of the two countries involved.
We submitted the project to the Ethical Board of the University of Turin (PI) that approved it.
Conflict of Interest
This article contains no conflict of interest among the authors.
- Anderson-Fye, E. P., & Becker, A. E. (2004). Sociocultural aspects of eating disorders. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Handbook of eating disorders and obesity (pp. 565–589). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- American Psychological Association. (2007). Report of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx.
- Bartky, S. L. (1990). Femininity and domination: Studies in the phenomenology of oppression. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Becker, A. E., & Fay, K. (2006). Sociocultural issues and eating disorders. In S. Wonderlich, J. Mitchell, M. de Zwaan, & H. Steiger (Eds.), Annual Review of Eating Disorders, part 2—2006 (pp. 35–63). Oxford: Radcliffe.Google Scholar
- Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture, and the body. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Calogero, R. M. (2011). Operationalizing self-objectification: Assessment and related methodological issues. In R. M. Calogero, S. Tantleff-Dunn, & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Self-objectification in women: Causes, consequences, and counteractions (pp. 23–39). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Catina, A., & Joja, O. (2001). Emerging markets: Submerging women. In M. Nasser, M. A. Katzman, & R. A. Gordon (Eds.), Eating disorders and cultures in transition (2nd ed., pp. 103–118). East Sussex, UK: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
- CENSIS, Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali. (2016). Women and media in Europe. Rome, Italy: Fondazione Adkins Chiti.Google Scholar
- Dakanalis, A., & Riva, G. (2013). Mass media, body image and eating disturbances: The underline mechanism through the lens of the objectification theory. In L. B. Sams & J. A. Keels (Eds.), Handbook on body image: Gender differences, sociocultural influences and health implications (pp. 217–236). New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
- EIGE (2015). Gender Equality Index 2015. Measuring gender equality in the European Union 2005-2012. Retrieved from http://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/gender-equality-index-2015-measuring-gender-equality-european-union-2005-2012-report.
- Faludi, S. (1991). Backlash: The undeclared war against women. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
- Garrow, J. S., & Webster, J. (1984). Quetelet’s index (W/H2) as a measure of fatness. International Journal of Obesity, 9, 147–153.Google Scholar
- Gavreliuc, A. (2010). Autism social, individualism autarhic şi tipare valorice transgeneraţionale în România contemporană [Social autism, autarchic individualism and transgenerational value patterns in contemporary Romania]. Psihologia socială, 26, 25–47.Google Scholar
- Gavreliuc, A. (2012). Continuity and change of values and attitudes in generational cohorts of the post-Communist Romania. Cognition, Brain, Behaviour. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 14, 191–212.Google Scholar
- Gervais, S. J., Bernard, P., & Riemer, A. R. (2015). Who treats people as sex objects? Cultural orientation, social comparison, and sexual objectification perpetration. Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale, 28, 153–181.Google Scholar
- Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. D., & Zahidi, S. (2009). The global gender gap 2009. Geneve, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.Google Scholar
- Levine, M. P., & Smolak, L. (2010). Cultural influences on body image and the eating disorders. In W. S. Agras (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of eating disorders (pp. 223–249). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Loughnan, S., Fernandez-Campos, S., Vaes, J., Anjum, G., Aziz, M., Harada, C., et al. (2015). Exploring the role of culture in sexual objectification: A seven nations study. Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale, 28, 125–152.Google Scholar
- Mîndruţ, P. (2006). Aerobics and self-asserting discourses: Mapping the gendered body in post-socialist Romania. Anthropology of East Europe Review, 24, 13–24.Google Scholar
- Miroiu, M. (2004a). Patriarhatele tranziţiei postcomuniste [The patriarchates of post-communist transition]. In M. Miroiu (Ed.), Drumul către autonomie. Teorii politice feministe [The way to autonomy. Feminist political theories] (pp. 214–245). Polirom: Iasi.Google Scholar
- Miroiu, M. (2015). On women, feminism, and democracy. In L. Stan & D. Vancea (Eds.), Post-communist Romania at twenty-five. Linking past, present and future (pp. 87–107). New York: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
- Nanu, C., Tăut, D., & Băban, A. (2014). Why adolescents are not happy with their body image. Journal of Gender and Feminist Studies, 2, 1–20. Retrieved from http://www.analize-journal.ro/library/files/baban.pdf.
- Nanu, C., Tăut, D., & Băban, A. (2013). Appearance esteem and weight esteem in adolescence. Are they different across age and gender? Cognition, Brain, Behaviour. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 17, 189–200.Google Scholar
- Procopio, C. A., Holm-Denoma, J. M., Gordon, K. H., & Joiner, T. E. (2006). Two–three-year stability and interrelations of bulimotypic indicators and depressive and anxious symptoms in middle-aged women. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39, 312–319. doi: 10.1002/eat.20242.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rathner, G. (2001). Post-communism and the marketing of the thin ideal. In M. Nasser, M. A. Katzman, & R. A. Gordon (Eds.), Eating disorders and cultures in transition (2nd ed., pp. 86–103). East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
- Ricciardelli, L. A., & Mellor, D. (2012). Influence of peers. In N. Rumsey & D. Harcourt (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of psychology of appearance (pp. 253–272). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Ring, A. (2000). Anti-aging in the era of the older person. Women’s Health Journal, 57, 25–27.Google Scholar
- Rollero, C., & De Piccoli, N. (2015). Gender as moderator between self-objectification and perceived health: An exploratory study. Psihologia Socială, 35, 101–108.Google Scholar
- Swami, V., Frederick, D. A., Aavik, T., Alcalay, L., Allik, J., Anderson, D., et al. (2010). The attractive female body weight and female body dissatisfaction in 26 countries across 10 world regions: Results of the International Body Project I. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 309–325. doi: 10.1177/0146167209359702.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Tesliuc, E. D., Pop, L., & Tesliuc, C. M. (2001). Poverty and the social security system. Iasi: Polirom Publishing House.Google Scholar
- UNDP. (2016). Human Development Report 2016. Human Development for Everyone. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf.
- Vandenbosch, L., & Eggermont, S. (2012). Understanding sexual objectification: A comprehensive approach toward media exposure and girls’ internalization of beauty ideals, self-objectification, and body surveillance. Journal of Communication, 62, 869–887. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01667.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Leung, K. (1997). Methods and data analysis for cross-cultural research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar