Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Bosson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tiffany Chenneville, Ph.D.


Relationships, Couples, Intimacy, Social media


Exposure to sexually objectifying media has been linked to the objectification of the self and of one’s romantic partner (e.g., partner-objectification); yet the implications of this for romantic relationships have remained relatively unexamined. There is, however, reason to suspect that exposure to sexually objectifying media and engaging in objectification may have implications for romantic couples. When a woman frequently monitors her appearance this may undermine her ability to sexually connect with her partner and when a man views his partner as an object for sexual pleasure it may impede his ability to develop intimate feelings of relational closeness to his partner. In the current study, 410 individuals who were in or had recently been in a romantic relationship were randomly shown either a sexualized or non-sexualized clip from social media, and then evaluated on rates of self and partner objectification and feelings of sexual closeness and relationship satisfaction and closeness. As hypothesized, greater self-objectification was related to decreases in aspects of sexual closeness to one’s partner and greater partner-objectification was related to decreases in feelings of relationship satisfaction and closeness to one’s partner. However, contrary to the hypotheses, these pathways were not impacted by exposure to sexualized social media. Collectively the current study illuminates the harm objectification has upon romantic relationships and speaks to the need to further investigate the role exposure to media may play in this dynamic.