The Role of Interpersonal Sexual Objectification in Heterosexual Intimate Partner Violence From Perspectives of Perceivers and Targets

Gemma Sáez, Abigail R. Riemer, Rebecca L. Brock, Sarah J. Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sexual objectification is a subtle manifestation of sexist discrimination and violence against women that involves seeing and treating women as sex objects of male sexual desire. The primary aim of this research was to connect sexual objectification experiences with heterosexual intimate partner violence. This set of studies examined the impact of sexual objectification on intimate partner violence for both the female victim (Study 1) and the male perpetrator (Study 2). Female (Study 1) and male (Study 2) participants were asked to rate the extent they are victims or perpetrators of sexual objectification experiences and intimate partner violence. Moreover, women’s self-silencing and men’s ascriptions of humanity and empathy (through empathic concern and perspective taking) toward their partner was assessed. The results of the first study (including 154 heterosexual women) showed that general sexual objectification victimization indirectly leads to higher psychological and physical violence through the internalization of self-silence schemas. The second study (including 165 heterosexual men) demonstrated a link between general sexual objectification perpetration and psychological and physical intimate partner violence. Moreover, the relation between men’s perpetration of objectification and intimate partner violence was mediated by ascriptions of humanity and empathic concern toward their female partner (but not through perspective taking toward her). Results of both studies demonstrate the effect of sexual objectification (as target or perpetrator) on global intimate partner violence and explain the different psychological mechanisms through which it takes place depending on the gendered perspective. Theoretical implications and practical considerations for interventions on intimate partner violence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Dehumanization
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • domestic violence
  • empathy
  • offenders
  • sexual harassment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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