Do You See What I See: The Influence of Self-Objectification on Appearance Anxiety, Intrinsic Motivation, Interoceptive Awareness, and Physical Performance
Objectification theory suggests that when individuals take on an observer’s perspective of their physical appearance (known as self-objectification), they experience an increase in body shame and anxiety and a decrease in motivation and bodily awareness. The purpose of this study was to determine if self-objectification could impact social physique anxiety, intrinsic motivation, and bodily awareness as well as physical performance. Undergraduate female students (N=54) were recruited to participate in a Consumer Behaviour study (cover story). Participants were randomly assigned to a swimsuit or sweater condition, completed cover story and body image measures, changed into the clothing based upon randomization, then completed state body image measures and performed a series of balance tasks. Women in the swimsuit group experienced greater state self-objectification and reported greater amounts of body-related shame and appearance anxiety and lower amounts of intrinsic motivation. In addition, self-objectification led to restricted arms, trunk, and leg movements during a 1-leg stand. Findings could have implications for promoting positive experiences during physical activity, such as sport, exercise or rehabilitation settings.