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Sexual Objectification Increases Rape Victim Blame and Decreases Perceived Suffering

Loughnan, Steve, Pina, Afroditi, Vasquez, Eduardo A., Puvia, Elisa (2013) Sexual Objectification Increases Rape Victim Blame and Decreases Perceived Suffering. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37 (4). pp. 455-461. ISSN 0361-6843. (doi:10.1177/0361684313485718)

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Sexual objectification changes the way people view women by reducing them to sexual objects—denied humanity and an internal mental life, as well as deemed unworthy of moral concern. However, the subsequent consequences of sexually objectifying others remain underresearched. In the current study, we examined the impact of objectification in the domain of sexual assault. Sixty British undergraduate students were recruited to complete an impression formation task. We manipulated objectification by presenting participants with either a sexualized or nonsexualized woman. Participants rated the woman’s mind and the extent to which they felt moral concern for her. They then learned that she was the victim of an acquaintance rape and reported victim blame and both blatant and subtle perceptions of her suffering. Consistent with prior research, sexualized women were objectified through a denial of mental states and moral concern. Further, compared with nonobjectified women, the objectified were perceived to be more responsible for being raped. Interestingly, although no difference emerged for blatant measures of suffering, participants tacitly denied the victims’ suffering by exhibiting changes in moral concern for the victim. We conclude that objectification has important consequences for how people view victims of sexual assault. Our findings reveal that sexual objectification can have serious consequences and we discuss how these might influence how victims cope and recover from sexual assault.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0361684313485718
Uncontrolled keywords: objectification, social perception, impression formation, morality, victimization, blame, acquaintance rape
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Centre of Research & Education in Forensic Psychology
Depositing User: Eduardo Vasquez
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2014 10:26 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 12:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Vasquez, Eduardo A.:
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