The relationship of sexual objectification with internet addiction and its implications for mental health

Charmain CHAU, Shun Wai Rheal CHAN, Jieshuang LIANG, Kai Tak POON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Sexual objectification refers to an individual being recognized solely for their appearance and sexual function. University students may frequently experience sexually objectifying social encounters, such as being catcalled, being leered at, or receiving derogatory comments. However, relatively little research has considered how it may be associated with maladaptive usage of the internet and the implications of this for mental health, including depression and anxiety. Internet addiction has been identified as a pressing and highly prevalent issue; identifying its antecedents may assist in the prevention of this harmful phenomenon. Therefore, we recruited undergraduate students (valid N = 677) to test whether sexual objectification is associated with internet addiction through a low sense of control and whether the association between sexual objectification and internet addiction further predicts mental health outcomes. Advancing knowledge of the relationship between sexual objectification and mental health outcomes may facilitate more effective coping. Participants completed validated measures assessing their sexual objectification, sense of control, internet addiction, depression, and anxiety. We conducted regression analyses, structural equation modeling, and bootstrapping analyses to test our predictions. As predicted, sexual objectification was negatively associated with control and positively associated with internet addiction, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, the associations between sexual objectification and anxiety and depression were serially mediated by control and internet addiction. These findings advance our knowledge of the outcomes of sexual objectification, with significant implications for practitioners, support groups, and individuals coping with sexual objectification. Copyright © 2024 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108179
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume155
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

Citation

Chau, C., Chan, R. S. W., Liang, J., & Poon, K.-T. (2024). The relationship of sexual objectification with internet addiction and its implications for mental health. Computers in Human Behavior, 155, Article 108179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2024.108179

Keywords

  • Sexual objectification
  • Control
  • Internet addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mental health
  • PG student publication

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