British Journal of Social Psychology

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Objectification of people and thoughts: An attitude change perspective

Many objectification phenomena can be understood from a mind–body dualism perspective in which the more people focus on their bodies, the less they focus on their minds. Instead of viewing mind and body in opposition to each other, we advocate for a more reciprocal view in which mind and body work in conjunction. Consistent with an integrated mind–body approach, we begin our review by describing research on embodied persuasion revealing that focusing on our own body can reduce but also increase thinking (elaboration), as well as affecting the use of thoughts in forming evaluations (validation). Next, we extend our integrated view to a new domain and suggest that physical objects can influence thoughts and that one's thoughts can also be objectified. The first portion of this section focuses on research on enclothed cognition revealing that wearing physical objects can operate through the same processes of elaboration (increasing and decreasing thinking) and validation (increasing and decreasing thought usage) as the body. The second portion reveals that thoughts can be understood and treated as if they were physical objects affecting evaluative processes by influencing elaboration and validation processes. The final section provides some practical guidance relevant to campaigns designed to reduce the objectification of women and the infrahumanization of stigmatized groups.

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