Sexual Objectification and Sexual Assault: Do Self-Objectification and Sexual Assertiveness Account for the Link?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research grounded in objectification theory reveals significant positive associations between experiences of sexual objectification and sexual assault victimization. However, it remains unclear why this relationship exists. To address this question, we tested a path model in which repeated experiences of body evaluation (a form of sexual objectification) were expected to increase risk of sexual assault via the mechanisms of increased body surveillance (a form of self-objectification) and lower sexual assertiveness. Method: Participants were 297 undergraduate women who completed validated measures assessing their body evaluation experiences, body surveillance, sexual refusal assertiveness, and sexual victimization. Results: Correlations revealed expected relations among the variables. As hypothesized, the results of path analyses revealed that higher body evaluation predicted greater sexual victimization both directly and indirectly via higher body surveillance and lower sexual assertiveness. Conclusion: This study identifies body surveillance and sexual assertiveness as potentially important factors that may mediate associations between experiences of body evaluation and sexual assault. Findings suggest that interventions designed to interrupt persistent body surveillance and bolster assertiveness in the face of unwanted sexual experiences may be effective in reducing sexual assault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Violence
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Sexual objectification
  • body evaluation
  • self-objectification
  • sexual assault victimization
  • sexual assertiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

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