Objectifying objectification: When and why people are cognitively reduced to their parts akin to objects

Philippe Bernard, Sarah J. Gervais, Olivier Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objectification occurs when people are seen and treated similarly to things. Research on this topic has been dominated by an interest in the content of impressions people form of targets, but much less is known about the processes involved in the objectification of others. To fill this gap, this paper reviews a recent line of research that investigates the cognitive objectification of others (i.e., the processes - early visual processing, attention and memory - through which a person is no longer perceived as a global physical entity, thereby reduced to its parts akin to objects). We consider research that examined when and why this cognitive objectification occurs using methods borrowed from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. In doing so, we provide information for the sequential ordering of cognitive objectification processes that may occur during person perception. We finally propose a novel process-oriented model aimed at understanding the antecedents and outcomes of cognitive objectification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-121
Number of pages40
JournalEuropean Review of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Dehumanisation
  • Gender
  • Objectification
  • Person perception
  • Sexualisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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