Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Sharon Lamb

Second Advisor

Alice Frye

Third Advisor

Jean E. Rhodes


This study used objectification theory as a framework through which to explore the effect of interpersonal objectification, self-objectification, and indicators of selfobjectification (body shame, general surveillance, and surveillance during sexual activity) on women’s sexual health, including sexual subjectivity (sexual body esteem, sexual selfreflection, and entitlement and efficacy in attaining pleasure), sexual functioning, and risky sexual behaviors. It was hypothesized that interpersonal objectification and selfobjectification adversely affect sexual health and that body shame, general surveillance, and surveillance during sexual activity would mediate these relations. Sexual subjectivity was also hypothesized to mediate the relations between interpersonal and selfobjectification and risky sexual behaviors and sexual functioning. Lastly, relationship length and satisfaction were hypothesized to moderate some of these relations. Internet survey data was collected from diverse women ages 18 to 34 (N = 1271). As hypothesized, interpersonal objectification and self-objectification were found to adversely affect women’s sexual health through their effect on body shame, surveillance, and in the case of sexual functioning and risky sexual behaviors, elements of sexual subjectivity. The constellation of variables that predicted each of the sexual health variables varied. Contrary to hypotheses, general surveillance and interpersonal objectification were found to positively affect elements of sexual subjectivity. Overall, relationship length and satisfaction did not moderate the relations in the model. Results were explored within the context of objectification theory, current societal discourses about young women’s sexuality and sexual empowerment, and hook-up culture.

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Psychology Commons