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Study: Women viewed as body parts while men as whole human beings

men and women

by Joseph Earnest  July 27, 2012                   


Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—A research study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology reveals that the brains of both men and women perceived men as whole people while women were seen as body parts. Cognitive psychology suggests that global processing underlies person recognition, whereas local processing underlies object recognition.


The study discovered that male and female subjects relied on "global" cognitive processing when looking at images of men but used "local" cognitive processing when it came to pictures of women.

The global method means a person is perceived as a whole, while the local method views the person as an object. Women are more likely to be separated into different parts by the brain and seen as body parts rather than a whole, according to the research, while men, on the other hand, are processed as a whole rather than the sum of their parts.

"Everyday, ordinary women are being reduced to their sexual body parts," said study author Sarah Gervais, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "This isn't just something that supermodels or porn stars have to deal with."

The findings across two experiments showed that women's bodies were reduced to their sexual body parts in perceivers' minds, while men were identified as whole human beings.

"It could be related to different motives," said Gervais. "Men might be doing it because they’re interested in potential mates, while women may do it more of a comparison with themselves. What we do know is that they're both doing it." According to the study, women also view each other in terms of body parts.

However, we live in a culture that is obsessed with superficial appearance, whereby people do everything they can to cling to their youthful looks.  Advertising is one of the major factors that contributes to this since it promotes a certain body-type, creating an illusion of what true beauty is.  You now have a culture in which most doctors go to medical school and specialize in cosmetic or plastic surgery because they notice the demand from a self-absorbed civilization, that desires to look a certain way.

Self-worth is also another factor, since the number of single-parent homes is on the rise, and if one grows up with a weak self-image, it also affects one's body image.  If a parent is too busy to affirm a child as to how important and relevant that child's life is, then it would be hard for such a kid to develop a strong self-worth.  The result will be to seek acceptance from peers by enhancing the external appearance in terms of body parts, just to fit in.

When we see ads on TV or in magazines promising better teeth, bigger breasts, narrower waists, a defined jaw line and pronounced cheek-bones, these are usually targeted to the female gender.

Media and entertainment companies target and manipulate a particular demographic and promote an unrealistic image that people with a low self-esteem find hard to live up to. In the media, news directors look for certain physical attributes that they believe someone should have in order to increase ratings.  This is particularly true for women, that's why when local female anchors or reporters hit their early to mid-forties, they'd be very lucky to have their contracts renewed.  

In entertainment, some contracts have clauses that require the actors and actresses to maintain a certain weight in order to get additional roles.

Some people will even go as far as getting butt implants or butt lifts just to enhance their figures, and recently an unfortunate event happened where a woman lost her life after receiving injections in her buttocks to make it look bigger.(pop-up)

When someone focuses more on enhancing a particular body part, just to "fit in" or look attractive, that person objectifies himself, or herself.  It is more beneficial to focus on developing the true authentic self and blazing one's own trail, rather than attempting to please the button-pushers.  

Accordingly, the study's findings in regard to the way people view each other, is relevant in explaining the image problem this civilization suffers from, which is an after-effect of what the media and entertainment constantly promote as the norm.

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