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Women Who See Themselves as Objects Are Less Able to Count Their Own Heartbeats

While a device connected to their finger measured their pulse, female university students were asked to “listen” to their bodies and silently count their own heartbeats, without feeling for their pulse. At the best, they were able to do so with 85 percent accuracy.

Then, the women responded to questionnaires designed to measure the degree to which they self-objectify – ranking how highly they value physical attributes based on appearance compared to those based on competence (for example, were they more concerned about their body shape or their energy level?).

They found a significant correlation between the participants’ ability to count their heartbeats and where they scored on the scale of self-objectification: Those who valued appearance over competence were less interospective [sic].

First of all, you can see by clicking through to the study in question that the correct word is not “interospective” but “interoceptive”, which certainly makes more sense.

More importantly, I don’t feel too confident in the conclusions the researchers drew from the study, because I feel like their methods were flawed. Doesn’t it seem entirely possible that being asked to count their own heartbeats right before filling out the questionnaires may have caused some women to experience more self-objectifying feelings because of some other factor not accounted for by the study?

Still, I like that someone is doing research into self-objectification and its effects on women’s overall health.