Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Michael A. Milburn

Second Advisor

Chris Bobel

Third Advisor

Jean Rhodes


Despite substantial evidence that women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men, the etiology for this difference remains unclear. Prior to puberty, the difference in depression is negligible; however, when adolescence begins, a precipitous rise in female depression occurs that persists across the lifespan. While no definitive biological change has been linked to this phenomenon, objectification theory (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997) can be used to gain insight into the social influences at play during that transitional period. This study of 269 undergraduate women from a northeastern university used structural equation modeling to propose a path leading from self-objectification to hopelessness depression. Building on the existing theoretical links between body shame and hopelessness, this study found evidence to support a strong empirical connection between these concepts. Hopelessness partially mediated the relationship between body shame and depression. The study also found that body shame fully mediated the relationship between self-objectification and depression. The role of appearance anxiety and thin-ideal internalization are also incorporated into the model and analyzed. The generalizability of the model and the implications for treatment are reviewed in the discussion.