The roles of dispositional flow, dispositional mindfulness, and self-compassion in the Objectification Theory Framework
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Women are at greater risk than men for experiencing eating disorders, depression, and sexual dysfunction (American Psychological Association, 2007; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) was proposed to explain one process through which sexist social experiences affect women’s mental health outcomes. Objectification theory posits that women are frequently treated as objects in Western society, and that they internalize this treatment such that they view themselves as objects. This selfobjectification affects their experience of themselves in the world, heightening body-related shame and appearance- and safety-related anxiety. It also makes it more difficult for women to feel connected with their bodies and to experience flow, a pleasant sensation of feeling absorbed in the present moment. Flow has a rich body of research dating back to at least 1975, when Csikszentmihalyi wrote about flow as experienced by chess players, dancers, rock climbers, and surgeons. Historically, however, objectification theory researchers have used measures of flow not grounded in Csikszentmihalyi’s multi-dimensional conceptualization. One purpose of the present study was to investigate the aspects of flow most relevant to objectification theory (i.e., concentration, control, and loss of selfconsciousness) using an appropriate, validated measure. A second purpose of the present study was to explore mindfulness and selfcompassion as potential moderators within the objectification theory framework. These strength-based practices have received recent attention for treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. We studied mindfulness and self-compassion at the trait level as a first step in exploring how these cultivatable strengths may buffer against the deleterious effects of objectification. The present study used a correlational design to explore relationships among objectification theory variables and hypothesized strength-based moderators. We sampled data obtained from 500 women recruited through three different methods who completed an online survey consisting of 11 different measures. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Hypothesized moderated relationships were generally not supported, although most correlations were in the expected directions. Overall, results underscored the need to a) study flow within the objectification theory framework using a multi-dimensional conceptualization and b) develop strength-based interventions for treating women’s mental health concerns.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Background and review of literature -- Research design and methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. Screening questions -- Appendix B. Demographic questionnaire -- Appendix C. The body surveillance subscale of the objectified body -- Appendix D. The body shame subscale of the objectified body consciousness scale -- Appendix E. The social appearance anxiety scale -- Appendix F. The dispositional flow scale-2 long form -- Appendix G. Measure of physical safety anxiety -- Appendix H. Measure of body responsiveness -- Appendix I. The eating attitudes test -- Appendix J. The center for epidemiologic studies depression scale-short form -- Appendix K. The female sexual function index -- Appendix L. The Freiburg mindfulness inventory-short form -- Appendix M. The self-compassion scale-short form -- Appendix N. AMOS proposed model of the mediating role of the three dimensions of flow in objectification theory -- Appendix O. AMOS retained model of the mediating role of the three dimensions of flow in objectiticaiton theory -- Appendix P. AMOS modified proposed model of the moderating role of dispositional mindefullness in objectification theory -- Appendix Q. AMOS retained model of the moderating role of dispositional mindefullness in objectification theory -- Appendix R. AMOS modified proposed model of the moderating role of self-compassion in objectification theory -- Appendix S. AMOS retained model of the moderating role of self-compassion in objectification theory