Portraits Giorgia Silani, Claus Lamm, Arnd Florack und Michaela Michna

Full title of the project: "The neural correlates of sexual objectification".

Team: Assoz. Prof. Giorgia Silani, Privatdoz. PhD; Univ.-Prof. Dr. Claus Lamm; Univ.-Prof. Dr. Arnd Florack; Melanie Michna MSc.

Institute/Department: Department of Clinical and Health Psychology.

Goal of the project: The project investigates proximate cognitive and neural mechanisms of sexual objectification, and how these mechanisms relate to the effects of sexual objectification on empathy for pain and (pro)social behaviours. Moreover, individual variables associated with sexual objectification are taken into account.

Why is this important and useful? It has been proposed that sexual objectification is a main psychological process that can lead to reduced empathy for the suffering of a victim, which in turn is a key factor for enabling violent as well as preventing helping behaviours.

Abstract: It has been proposed that reduced empathy for the suffering of a victim is a key factor for enabling violent, as well as preventing helping behaviours. Sexual objectification, defined as the reduction of an individual to his/her sexual body parts, has been suggested as a main process leading to such reduced empathy. However, despite the growing interest in the field, a comprehensive understanding of how perceiving others as sexual objects affects our behaviours towards them is completely lacking. Thus, the project aims to determine the consequences of sexual objectification on (pro)social behaviour, which proximate neural and cognitive mechanisms are responsible for such behaviour, to explore individual factors in the perceiver that lead to objectification of sexualized individuals and its consequences.

Explanation - easy to understand: When other people are viewed in a sexy manner, we can sometimes perceive them as an object for our personal use, rather than a human being. This can lead to the fact that we cannot detect, understand or feel the feelings of the other person any more. It can influence our behaviour towards these people and can enhance violence or prevent helping people who are suffering. How these factors are related shall be investigated in this project.

Link: http://www.silanilab.com/projects.html