Sexual objectification is one of the most common signs of discrimination against women in Western societies; however, only a few studies have examined objectification within romantic relationships. The Objectification Theory predicts that repeated experiences of objectification lead women to experience negative psychological consequences. In this study, we aimed to verify if this process could also be found in close romantic relationships and if the experiences of a partner’s objectification could negatively affect the satisfaction with life of both partners. The study involved 66 heterosexual couples, between the ages of 18 and 55. Men were asked to complete an implicit measure of sexual objectification towards the partner while women were provided with an implicit measure of self-objectification. The results revealed a negative effect of sexual objectification towards the partner, mediated by women’s self-esteem, on partners’ life satisfaction. Higher levels of sexual objectification were associated with lower levels of self-esteem in women and this, in turn, was associated with a greater discrepancy between women and men life satisfaction. Furthermore, inclusion of the other in the self worked as a moderator: women’s self-esteem at a higher level of inclusion of the partner in the self were associated with lesser discrepancies in the satisfaction with life of the partners. In literature, the reasons for the negative effects caused by objectification within romantic relationships are still unclear. This study provides firsts evidence of the central role played by self-esteem.
The implicit measurement of sexual objectification in heterosexual couples: An exploratory study on the effects of partner objectification on self-esteem and life satisfaction / Pecini, Chiara; Crapolicchio, Eleonora; Cocco, Veronica Margherita; Di Bernardo, Gian Antonio; Vezzali, Loris. - (2019). (Intervento presentato al convegno International Conference “Migration. From conflict and hate to healing and hope. Psychological perspectives on community and wellness” tenutosi a Napoli nel 4-6 ottobre 2019).