Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Richard Ferraro


The theory of self-objectification, developed by Fredrickson and Roberts (1997) explains how women view their bodies as objects. Studies have looked at self-objectification and its associated negative effects, such as cognitive decline, body shame, disordered eating, and low self-esteem in a number of different populations; however, no study to date has utilized path analysis to examine the role that self-objectification plays in unwanted sexual contact. If self-objectification does lead to decreases in self-esteem and increases in viewing one's body as a sexual object, then women may feel they have little choice when faced with sexual coercion. The present study examined a path analysis model of self-objectification, body dissatisfaction, body shame, low self-esteem, eating attitudes, and sexual experiences self-reported by sorority and non-sorority college women. It was hypothesized that the path analysis would be supported more by the sorority participant data than the non-sorority participant data. Participants were asked to complete web-based questionnaires pertaining to the variables of interest. Separate path analyses were conducted to compare the model of fit between the sorority and non-sorority participants. The results suggested that the predicted model was a good fit for both samples, but that that the model was a better fit for the college women who were not in sororities. Implications and reasons for this are considered in the discussion section.