Body Conscious? Interoceptive Awareness, Measured by Heartbeat Perception, Is Negatively Correlated with Self-Objectification

Ainley, Vivien; Tsakiris, Manos
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: ‘Self-objectification’ is the tendency to experience one's body principally as an object, to be evaluated for its appearance rather than for its effectiveness. Within objectification theory, it has been proposed that self-objectification accounts for the poorer interoceptive awareness observed in women, as measured by heartbeat perception. Our study is, we believe, the first specifically to test this relationship. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using a well-validated and reliable heartbeat perception task, we measured interoceptive awareness in women and compared this with their scores on the Self-Objectification Questionnaire, the Self-Consciousness Scale and the Body Consciousness Questionnaire. Interoceptive awareness was negatively correlated with self-objectification. Interoceptive awareness, public body consciousness and private body consciousness together explained 31% of the variance in self-objectification. However, private body consciousness was not significantly correlated with interoceptive awareness, which may explain the many nonsignificant results in self-objectification studies that have used private body consciousness as a measure of body awareness. Conclusions/Significance: We propose interoceptive awareness, assessed by heartbeat perception, as a measure of body awareness in self-objectification studies. Our findings have implications for those clinical conditions, in women, which are characterised by self-objectification and low interoceptive awareness, such as eating disorders.


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