Insights into men’s sexual aggression toward women: Dehumanization and objectification

Casey Bevens, Stephen Loughnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sexual aggression is a global, ongoing problem, and it is most often perpetrated by men against women. In a set of studies, we investigated the role of dehumanization and objectification in men’s sexual aggression-related attitudes and interests toward women in general, as well as toward a specific female target. The first of our studies, with 190 heterosexual British men recruited online, established a correlational link between dehumanization and rape proclivity. Dehumanization was also related to unfavorable attitudes toward rape victims. Critically, our results largely held when controlling for several variables with previously established relationships to sexual aggression. Results for objectification were less consistent. Our second study sought to experimentally manipulate the dehumanization of a woman and measures its effect on sexual aggression attitudes and interests. Results from 106 heterosexual British men seemed to be particularly driven by one aspect of dehumanization—the denial of human uniqueness—showing differences in correlations between experimental groups on measures of sexual aggression including rape proclivity, unfavorable attitudes toward a rape victim, and a behavioral rape analogue task. Avenues for future research are discussed, and implications of the work include the potential for emphasizing women as people, especially through highlighting their human uniqueness, in designing effective prevention and interventions (e.g., bystander) efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalSex Roles
Early online date26 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2019


  • dehumanization
  • sexual objectification
  • sexual assault perpetration
  • violence
  • aggression toward women
  • rape


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