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Effects of Sexually Objectifying Media on Self-Objectification and Body Surveillance in Undergraduates: Results of a 2-Year Panel Study


  • Jennifer Stevens Aubrey

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Communication, The University of Missouri at Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211-2310
      Jennifer Stevens Aubrey; e-mail:
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Jennifer Stevens Aubrey; e-mail:


This study used objectification theory (B. L. Fredrickson & T.-A. Roberts, 1997) to predict that the media’s insidious practice of objectifying bodies socializes individuals to take an outsider’s perspective on the physical self (i.e., self-objectify) and to habitually monitor their appearance (i.e., engage in body surveillance). To test these hypotheses, a 2-year panel study using an undergraduate sample was conducted. Cross-lagged path models showed that exposure to sexually objectifying television measured during Year 1 increased trait self-objectification (trait SO) during Year 2 for both women and men. At the same time, trait SO during Year 1 decreased exposure to sexually objectifying television during Year 2, suggesting that both male and female participants selectively avoided sexually objectifying television based on antecedent trait SO. Moreover, exposure to sexually objectifying television and magazines increased body surveillance for men only. The discussion focuses on the process by which the media create body-focused perceptions.

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