Objectification has been defined historically as a process of subjugation whereby people, like objects, are treated as means to an end. The authors hypothesized that objectification is a response to social power that involves approaching useful social targets regardless of the value of their other human qualities. Six studies found that under conditions of power, approach toward a social target was driven more by the target's usefulness, defined in terms of the perceiver's goals, than in low-power and baseline conditions. This instrumental response to power, which was linked to the presence of an active goal, was observed using multiple instantiations of power, different measures of approach, a variety of goals, and several types of instrumental and noninstrumental target attributes. Implications for research on the psychology of power, automatic goal pursuit, and self-objectification theory are discussed.

D.H. Gruenfeld, M. Inesi, J. Magee, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Full Citation

Gruenfeld, D.H., M. Inesi, J. Magee, and Adam Galinsky
. “Power and the objectification of social targets.”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, (January 01, 2008):