How does it feel to be treated like an object? Direct and indirect effects of exposure to sexual objectification on women’s emotions in daily life.

Exposure to sexual objectification is an everyday experience for many women, yet little is known about its emotional consequences. Fredrickson and Roberts’ (1997) objectification theory proposed a within-person process, wherein exposure to sexual objectification causes women to adopt a third-person perspective on their bodies, labeled self-objectification, which has harmful downstream consequences for their emotional well-being. However, previous studies have only tested this model at the between-person level, making them unreliable sources of inference about the proposed intraindividual psychological consequences of objectification. Here, we report the results of Bayesian multilevel structural equation models that simultaneously tested Fredrickson and Roberts’ (1997) predictions both within and between persons, using data from 3 ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies of women’s (N = 268) experiences of sexual objectification in daily life. Our findings support the predicted within-person indirect effect of exposure to sexual objectification on increases in negative and self-conscious emotions via self-objectification. However, lagged analyses suggest that the within-person indirect emotional consequences of exposure to sexual objectification may be relatively fleeting. Our findings advance research on sexual objectification by providing the first comprehensive test of the within-person process proposed by Fredrickson and Roberts’ (1997) objectification theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)