Self‐Objectification and Disordered Eating: A Meta‐Analysis

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body surveillance, disordered eating, objectification, meta‐analysis, review, sociocultural

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Objective: Objectification theory posits that self‐objectification increases risk for disordered eating.

Method: The current study sought to examine the relationship between self‐objectification and disordered eating using meta‐analytic techniques.

Results: Data from 53 cross‐sectional studies (73 effect sizes) revealed a significant moderate positive overall effect (r = .39), which was moderated by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and measurement of self‐objectification. Specifically, larger effect sizes were associated with female samples and the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale. Effect sizes were smaller among heterosexual men and African American samples. Age, body mass index, country of origin, measurement of disordered eating, sample type and publication type were not significant moderators.

Discussion: Overall, results from the first meta‐analysis to examine the relationship between self‐objectification and disordered eating provide support for one of the major tenets of objectification theory and suggest that self‐objectification may be a meaningful target in eating disorder interventions, though further work is needed to establish temporal and causal relationships. Findings highlight current gaps in the literature (e.g., limited representation of males, and ethnic and sexual minorities) with implications for guiding future research.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 51, issue 6, p. 483-502