Exploring the bidirectional connection between belonging and women’s self-sexualization

Jill Allen, Mallory Grembowski, Robyn K. Mallett, Sarah J. Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women’s self-sexualization and belonging may be inextricably connected. Self-sexualization, or intentionally engaging in activities to appear sexually appealing to others, may carry intrapersonal costs but also interpersonal benefits. Integrating objectification, belonging, and ostracism theories, we tested whether social exclusion increases women’s self-sexualization and whether self-sexualization reduces anticipated social exclusion. First, we considered whether actual or anticipated social exclusion at interpersonal (Study 1) or intergroup (Study 2) levels led to greater self-sexualization. Second, we examined whether self-sexualization increased anticipated inclusion (Study 3). Results indicate that belonging drives women’s self-sexualization behavior (Studies 1–2) and this behavior increases anticipated belonging, but only when it is agentically chosen (Study 3). This preliminary work contributes to self-sexualization research through novel theoretical integration and methodological advances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-892
Number of pages16
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • backlash effects
  • belonging
  • impression management
  • ostracism
  • self-sexualization
  • sexual objectification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the bidirectional connection between belonging and women’s self-sexualization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this