“Sarah Palin – Objectification – Reaction – Situation”

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That is the title of an interesting post at The Situationist which provides an overview of research by psychologists from University of South Florida, Jamie L. Goldenberg and Nathan A. Heflick,  which examined the objectifying effects of thinking about Sarah Palin’s appearance. Here is a short excerpt:

Goldenberg said that, after factoring out Democratic respondents (who solidly supported Obama), the Republicans and independents asked to write about Palin’s appearance said they were less likely to vote GOP than those who simply considered Palin as a person.

“There was an overall tendency to perceive Sarah Palin as less competent than Angelina Jolie,”said Goldenberg, noting their results fell in line with previous studies indicating that, in high status and political jobs, attractive women were perceived as less competent in ways attractive men and women in other jobs were not.

. . . .Goldenberg said the study, which is to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, may spark more questions than it answers.

“What you can’t tell from this is what did they finally do in the end?”said Joel Cooper, a professor of psychology at Princeton University and editor of the journal publishing Goldenberg and Heflick’s study.”But at the moment they thought of (Palin) as a beauty queen, they were less likely to consider voting for (her) … Knowing that is important for campaigns and how we understand each other.”

Another question: Are female politicians who play down their appearance, like Hillary Clinton, instinctively on to something?

–Ann Bartow

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