Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Fischer, Ann


This study explored how system-justification theory may explain the mixed psychological outcomes of women's self-sexualization. Specifically, it was hypothesized that gender-specific system justification would mediate the relationships between women's intentions regarding and enjoyment of self-sexualization and (a) endorsement of benevolent sexist attitudes; (b) environmental mastery; (c) general positive affect; and (d) general negative affect. Participants were 190 heterosexual-identified women over the age of 18, surveyed through college courses, social media, and email advertisement. Measures included the Sexualizing Behavior Scale (SBS; Nowatzki & Morry, 2009), the Enjoyment of Sexualization Scale (ESS; Liss, Erchull, & Ramsey, 2011), a gender-specific system justification scale (as modified and used by Jost and Kay, 2005), the Benevolent Sexism subscale of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996), the Environmental Mastery subscale from the Psychological Well-being Inventory (PWBI; Ryff, 1989), and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule - Expanded Form (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1999). Self-esteem was also examined as an exploratory criterion variable, using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory (RSE; Rosenberg, 1965). Data were analyzed through path analysis, and results indicated a number of significant direct paths between variables; however, none of the indirect paths was significant, indicating lack of support for the general hypothesis that gender-specific system justification would mediate the links between self-sexualizing and the criterion variables of interest. Implications of this study include illuminating the role of societal context in shaping the function of marginalized individuals' behaviors, as well as advancing feminist scholarship by bridging the opposing views regarding women's self-sexualizing behaviors.




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