The object of my aggression: Sexual objectification increases physical aggression towards women

Eddie Vasquez, Louisa Ball, Stephen Loughnan, Afroditi Pina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectification involves reducing someone to a sexual object, rather than seeing them as a full person. Despite numerous theoretical claims that people are more aggressive towards the objectified, and empirical evidence that objectification is linked to high willingness to aggress, rape proclivity, and aggressive attitudes, no research has examined a causal link between objectification and physical aggression, particularly in the context of provocation. In two experiments, we examined this hypothesised link. In Experiment 1, using a 2 (objectification: no/yes) x 2 (provocation: no/yes) factorial between-subjects design, we investigated the effects of objectification, induced via body focus during a face-to-face interaction, and provocation on physical aggression towards a female confederate. Our results revealed a significant main effect of provocation, a marginal main effect of objectification, and a significant interaction between these variables. In the absence of a provocation, focusing on a woman’s body increased aggression towards her. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 using a video of a target woman instead of a face-to-face interaction. Again, our results showed a significant two-way interaction between objectification and provocation, wherein objectification increased aggression in the absence of provocation. Overall, this research indicates that objectification can lead to heightened physical aggression towards objectified women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • objectification
  • body focus
  • physical aggresion
  • aggression towards women
  • aggression


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