Degree Granting Department
appearance, beauty, dehumanization, objectification, sexualization
While it's clear that the objectification of women is a prominent feature of Western society, it is far less clear what it actually means to be objectified. Philosophers, feminist scholars and psychologist agree that objectification involves a denial of humanity, however, the nature of this dehumanization has yet to be explained. Although existing research provides evidence that objectified women are associated both with objects and animals, no research has examined the conditions under which women are likely to be dehumanized by one form or another. Here, I propose that animalization, characterized by an association with animals, occurs when a woman is portrayed in a sexualized manner. In contrast, objectification, characterized by an association with objects, occurs when a woman is portrayed with a focus on her appearance. Two studies were designed to test this hypothesis. Study 1 found that when participants were primed with an image of a sexualized woman, they were more likely to animalistically dehumanize her (which is consistent with likening to animals). Conversely, when participants were primed with an image of a "beautified" woman, they were more likely to mechanistically dehumanize her (which is consistent with likening to objects). Study 2 attempted to make this link more directly by measuring implicit associations between women, objects, and animals as a function of the image prime, but failed to find the hypothesized result. This research provides the first empirical evidence that different portrayals of women (either sexualized or with a focus on appearance) implicate different forms of dehumanization.
Scholar Commons Citation
Morris, Kasey Lynn, "Differentiating Between Objectification and Animalization: Associations Between Women, Objects, and Animals" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.