Keywords: objectification, self-objectification, spheres of control, perceived control, women.
Being targets of an «objectifying gaze» increases women’s objectified body consciousness and self-objectification. Little is known about what can protect women from such effects. Here we investigated the role of perceived personal and interpersonal control. Study 1 examined the relations between personal and interpersonal control with self-objectification and the dimensions of the objectified body consciousness. Results showed that personal control was negatively correlated with body shame and positively with body control beliefs. Study 2 tested whether recalling a situation of perceived control would reduce the negative effects of experiencing an objectifying gaze. Results showed that being target of an objectifying gaze elicited higher self-objectification, body surveillance and body shame in women. These effects were not attenuated by recalling of being in control. Still, personal control was positively correlated with body control beliefs but negatively related with body surveillance. Altogether these preliminary findings suggest that the perception of personal control could protect women from engaging in negative self-evaluations and appearance-related behaviours. Future interventions could aim to strengthen the power women perceive to have and hence reduce the negative impact of sexual objectification.