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Research Article |

Exposure to Income Inequality on Social Media and Female Self-Objectification: The Mediating Role of Perceived Competitiveness

Female self-objectification refers to a phenomenon that women tend to overemphasize the importance of physical appearance in their self-worth. An increasing body of research suggests that engaging in appearance-relevant activities on social media platforms will contribute to the self-objectification of women (e.g., viewing selfies). From an evolutionary psychology perspective, attractive appearance will help women get more advantages in social competition. And recent research has demonstrated income inequality has a close connection with perceived competition and perceived competition had a close connection with female-self-objectification, thus indicating the possible connection between income inequality and female self-objectification. However, so far, little research has been conducted to examine the relationship between income inequality and female self-objectification. Given that, by using an online questionnaire survey, with 120 young female adults as participants, the present research firstly examined the relationship between income inequality exposure on social media and female self-objectification, and the possibly mediating role of perceived competition. The results showed that income inequality exposure on social media did not have a direct prediction on female self-objectification, but income inequality exposure has an indirect effect on female self-objectification via the mediating role of perceived competition. That is, income inequality exposure was significantly and positively related to perceived competition, β = 0.30, p < 0.001, and perceived competition was further related to female self-objectification, β = 0.49, p < 0.001. The present research firstly examined the relationship between income inequality exposure and female self-objectification, which enrich the understanding of how income inequality perception on the psychological level affected the self-concept of women.

Income Inequality, Social Media, Feminism, Self-Objectification, Media Psychology

Feng Yang, Haiyan Zhang, Zhiyi Lin, Tianning Zhang, Xiaotong Liu. (2023). Exposure to Income Inequality on Social Media and Female Self-Objectification: The Mediating Role of Perceived Competitiveness. American Journal of Applied Psychology, 12(6), 136-143.

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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