This paper comments on Heflick and Goldenberg (2010) and examines the evidence cited to support their claim that the objectification of Sarah Palin undermined her performance and voters’ perceptions of her competence. Drawing on evidence related to U.S. media and U.S. political elections, I discuss the conflicting images of Sarah Palin and how they may have contributed to a greater focus on her appearance. I review evidence of how Sarah Palin and other female political candidates have been treated by the media and conclude the evidence for objectification by the media is weak. While the experimental evidence of the objectification of Sarah Palin is intriguing, it does not eliminate plausible alternative explanations for judgments of her competence. Particular attention is paid to the problem of operationally defining objectification, whether in analyses of the media or in laboratory studies. More empirical research on the objectification of others is encouraged, and directions for future experimental research in this area are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 23, 2011
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