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The relationship of sexual objectification with Internet addiction and its implication for mental health



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, 1–8.

2022 Impact Factor 9.9 | 5-year Impact Factor 10.2

2022 JCR Rank 3/89, Q1 in Psychology, Experimental | 2023 SJR Rank 14/310, Q1 in Psychology - miscellaneous



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.

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