The Sexual Objectification and Alcohol Use Link: The Mediating Roles of Self-Objectification, Enjoyment of Sexualization, Body Shame, and Drinking Motives

Amanda E. Baildon, Sarah R. Eagan, Christa C. Christ, Tierney Lorenz, Scott F. Stoltenberg, Sarah J. Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Alcohol consumption is on the rise among U.S. women, especially college women, despite the negative consequences that uniquely and disproportionately affect them. The current work integrates objectification theory and related research with literature on drinking motivations to explore how women’s experiences living in a culture that constantly objectifies the female body is associated with women’s consumption of alcohol. Among a sample of 539 female U.S. college students, the present study examined how differentially valenced responses to interpersonal sexual objectification (enjoyment of sexualization or body shame) contribute to distinct drinking motivations and outcomes. Results showed general support for the proposed serial mediational model. The link between sexual objectification and drinking frequency was mediated by self-objectification, enjoyment of sexualization, and drinking for enhancement, social and conformity motives, and by self-objectification, body shame, and the conformity motive. Finally, sexual objectification was related to drinking quantity through self-objectification, enjoyment of sexualization, and the enhancement drinking motive. These findings suggest that objectification experiences and resulting negative and positive inner states are important predictors of alcohol consumption. The integration of objectification theory with drinking motives sheds light on additional negative consequences associated with women living in a patriarchal society, including increased alcohol use. This model, if confirmed by future research, may provide promising avenues for reducing women’s drinking and thus minimizing the negative consequences they experience from alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-204
Number of pages15
JournalSex Roles
Volume85
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Body shame
  • Drinking behavior
  • Enjoyment of sexualization
  • Objectification
  • Self-objectification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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