Extensive experimental research has been conducted to investigate how individuals empathise with others depending on contextual and motivational factors. However, the effect of sexual objectification (i.e. focus on the individual's physical appearance over his/her mental state) on empathy is scarce at best thus far. The aim of this work is to shed light on whether objectification modulates empathic responses toward humans and human-like objects. In Experiment 1, participants either underwent visuo-tactile stimulation or witnessed another person (a mannequin, a sexualized or a non-sexualized female confederate) being stimulated with pleasant or unpleasant objects. Participants were then asked to report either their own or the other's emotional experience. Results showed that shared representations (i.e. similarity between self-other emotional ratings) are significantly lower for the mannequin, intermediate for the sexualized woman, and reach the highest values for the non-sexualized woman. In Experiment 2, shared representations were assessed during a ball-tossing game in which the participants or one of the two confederates (sexualized or non-sexualized woman) were excluded from the game. Again, results showed reduced similarity between self-other emotional ratings toward sexualized as compared to non-sexualized women. The findings suggest that interacting with sexually objectified women reduces empathic responses typically observed within human relations.

Reduced shared emotional representations toward women revealing more skin

Cogoni, Carlotta
;
Carnaghi, Andrea;
2021

Abstract

Extensive experimental research has been conducted to investigate how individuals empathise with others depending on contextual and motivational factors. However, the effect of sexual objectification (i.e. focus on the individual's physical appearance over his/her mental state) on empathy is scarce at best thus far. The aim of this work is to shed light on whether objectification modulates empathic responses toward humans and human-like objects. In Experiment 1, participants either underwent visuo-tactile stimulation or witnessed another person (a mannequin, a sexualized or a non-sexualized female confederate) being stimulated with pleasant or unpleasant objects. Participants were then asked to report either their own or the other's emotional experience. Results showed that shared representations (i.e. similarity between self-other emotional ratings) are significantly lower for the mannequin, intermediate for the sexualized woman, and reach the highest values for the non-sexualized woman. In Experiment 2, shared representations were assessed during a ball-tossing game in which the participants or one of the two confederates (sexualized or non-sexualized woman) were excluded from the game. Again, results showed reduced similarity between self-other emotional ratings toward sexualized as compared to non-sexualized women. The findings suggest that interacting with sexually objectified women reduces empathic responses typically observed within human relations.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699931.2020.1826409
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3028386
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