International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Self-Subjugation among Women: How the Need to Justify the System Increases Women’s (but not Men’s) S

Rachel M. Calogero, Virginia Wesleyan College

Conference: ISPP 2011
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

In the present research, we investigate the possibility that self-objectification might be activated by broader environmental antecedents that convey information about culturally prescribed gender roles and behaviors––without focusing on appearance. Incidental exposure to sexist cues was employed in three experiments to investigate its effect on self-objectification in women and men. Consistent with system justification theory, exposure to benevolent and complementary forms of sexism, but not hostile or no sexism, increased state self-objectification, self-surveillance, and body shame among women but not men in Experiment 1 and 2. In addition, we found that women planned more future behaviors pertaining to appearance management than did men following exposure to benevolent sexism only; and this effect was mediated by self-surveillance and body shame. Experiment 3 revealed that the need to avoid closure may afford women some protection against self-objectification in the context of sexist ideology. Together, these findings suggest that self-objectification is actually situated within a more extensive ideological network that justifies and maintains gender inequality by encouraging women’s active participation in upholding the prevailing social norms that perpetuate their disadvantaged status.