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Attractive appearance, future wealth! How exposure to visual wealth on social media contributes to female self-objectification

Man Luo, Feng Yang

Article ID: 2868
Vol 9, Issue 7, 2024, Article identifier:

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Exposure to visual wealth on social media is a common phenomenon in daily life, but little research has been conducted to examine how this phenomenon affects individuals’ self-concept. By employing the social adaptation hypothesis of female self-objectification as a theoretical framework, the present research firstly investigated how visual wealth exposure on social media contributed to the self-objectification of women, and the downstream consequences linked to the self-objectification. To this end, three preregistered online studies were conducted. By adopting an online questionnaire survey, Study 1 found that there was a significantly positive relationship between visual wealth exposure and self-objectification, and economic inequality perception and competence perception played a chain-mediating role between them. By randomly assigning participants to the wealth-relevant image exposure condition or the natural scenery image exposure condition, Study 2 conceptually replicated the findings of Study 1. The following Study 3 further found that, participants exposed to wealth-relevant images displayed more preferences for an appearance-dominated job (working as a network entertainment-anchor) than those exposed to natural scenery images, and self-objectification mediated the effect of exposure condition on career choice. The current research provided additional empirical supports for the social adaptation hypothesis of female self-objectification, and also deepened our understanding of the relationship between social media use and the self-objectification of women.


social media; visual wealth exposure; economic inequality; objectification theory; female psychology

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