New research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that men under the influence of alcohol may be more likely to objectify women. For many, this may come as little surprise, but this is among the first studies to document the effects of alcohol consumption on men’s perceptions of women.
The study included nearly 50 men in their twenties, and 29 consumed alcohol until they were mildly intoxicated. The others were given placebos. Both groups viewed photos of 80 women dressed to go out and were asked to rate the woman’s appearance and personality.
The photos were previously rated by a panel on categories such as warmth, friendliness, intelligence, competence, and attractiveness. An eye-tracking device identified which part of the women’s bodies the men were focused on when they viewed the images.
When the men rated a woman based on her appearance, the instruction most often triggered objectifying gazes, and they spent less time looking at faces and focused much longer on chests and waists. This was especially true when looking at women who were highly rated for attractiveness.
It happened less often, however, when men were viewing women who exuded competence, particularly when the men were slightly intoxicated. The findings suggest that objectification of women by men is affected by alcohol use, and how warm, competent, and attractive they are perceived to be.
That is, being average in attractiveness or exuding humanizing qualities may be protective factors against objectification.
Abigail R. Riemer, per Springer:
“Environments in which alcohol is present are ripe with opportunities for objectifying gazes. Adopting objectifying gazes toward women leads perceivers to dehumanize women, potentially laying the foundation for many negative consequences such as sexual violence and workplace gender discrimination.”
“Understanding why the objectifying gaze occurs in the first place is an initial step toward stopping its incidence and its damaging effects.”
The study purports that this research will “[shed] light on potential interventions for clinicians and policymakers to reduce alcohol-involved objectification and related sexual aggression.”