MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

The object of my aggression: Sexual objectification increases physical aggression toward women

, , ,

Aggressive Behavior

Published online on


Objectification involves reducing someone to a sexual object, rather than seeing them as a full person. Despite numerous theoretical claims that people are more aggressive toward the objectified, and empirical evidence that objectification is linked to high willingness to aggress, rape proclivity, and aggressive attitudes, no research has examined a causal link between objectification and physical aggression, particularly in the context of provocation. In two experiments, we examined this predicted link. In Experiment 1, using a 2 (objectification: no/yes) × 2 (provocation: no/yes) factorial between‐subjects design, we investigated the effects of objectification, induced via body focus during a face‐to‐face interaction, and provocation on physical aggression toward a female confederate. Our results revealed a significant main effect of provocation, a marginal main effect of objectification, and a significant interaction between these variables. In the absence of a provocation, focusing on a woman's body increased aggression toward her. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 using a video of a target woman instead of a face‐to‐face interaction. Again, our results showed a significant two‐way interaction between objectification and provocation, wherein objectification increased aggression in the absence of provocation. Overall, this research indicates that objectification can lead to heightened physical aggression toward objectified women.