Trio of terror (pregnancy, menstruation, and breastfeeding): an existential function of literal self-objectification among women

Morris, Kasey L. and Goldenberg, Jamie L. and Heflick, Nathan A. (2014) Trio of terror (pregnancy, menstruation, and breastfeeding): an existential function of literal self-objectification among women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107 (1). pp. 181-198. ISSN 0022-3514

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036493

Documents
Trio of terror (pregnancy, menstruation, and breastfeeding): an existential function of literal self-objectification among women

Request a copy
[img] PDF
jpsp trio of terror (1).pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

905kB
Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Research and theorizing suggest that objectification entails perceiving a person not as a human being but,
quite literally, as an object. However, the motive to regard the self as an object is not well understood.
The current research tested the hypothesis that literal self-objectification can serve a terror management
function. From this perspective, the female body poses a unique existential threat on account of its role
in reproduction, and regarding the self as an object is posited to shield women from this threat because
objects, in contrast to humans, are not mortal. Across 5 studies, 3 operationalizations of literal
self-objectification were employed (a denial of essentially human traits to the self, overlap in the explicit
assignment of traits to the self and objects, and implicit associations between self and objects using an
implicit association test) in response to 3 aspects of women’s bodies involved in reproduction (pregnancy,
menstruation, and breastfeeding). In each study, priming mortality led women (but not men,
included in Studies 1, 3, 4, and 5) to literally self-objectify in conditions where women’s reproductive
features were salient. In addition, literal self-objectification was found to mediate subsequent responsiveness
to death-related stimuli (Study 4). Together, these findings are the first to demonstrate a direct
link between mortality salience, women’s role in reproduction, and their self-objectification, supporting
an existential function of self-objectification in women.

Keywords:mortality awareness, gender, pregnancy, menstruation, breastfeeding, objectification, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
ID Code:18883
Deposited On:30 Sep 2015 14:09

Repository Staff Only: item control page