Objectification decreases prosociality: The mediating role of relative deprivation

Zaixuan ZHANG, Zhansheng CHEN, Kai Tak POON, Tonglin JIANG

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectification denies individuals’ personhood and renders them as tools for facilitating others’ goal achievement. With two studies (N = 446), the present investigation aimed to contribute to the literature by testing whether and how objectification impacts prosociality, including prosocial intention and prosocial behavior. Study 1, with a correlational design, aimed to test whether participants with greater experience of objectification would report lower levels of prosociality, and to test whether participants’ relative deprivation could account for the proposed association between objectification and prosociality. To further test these associations and provide causal evidence, in Study 2, we manipulated objectification by asking participants to imagine future objectification experiences. These studies converged in support of the negative relationship between objectification and prosocial intention, as well as the mediating role of relative deprivation. Regarding prosocial behavior, our findings support a mediating mechanism between objectification and prosocial behavior, although the evidence for the effect of objectification on prosocial behavior is not sufficient. These findings enrich our understanding of the consequences of objectification, while highlighting interpersonal processes’ contribution to prosocial intention and behavior. The limitations and potential future directions were discussed. Copyright © 2023 Zhang, Chen, Poon and Jiang.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1120513
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


Zhang, Z., Chen, Z., Poon, K.-T., & Jiang, T. (2023). Objectification decreases prosociality: The mediating role of relative deprivation. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, Article 1120513. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1120513


  • Interpersonal relation
  • Objectification
  • Relative deprivation
  • Prosocial intention
  • Prosocial behavior


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