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How objectifiers are granted power in the workplace

Zhang, Bibi; Wisse, Barbara; Lord, Robert G.

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Bibi Zhang
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy

Barbara Wisse


Objectification often has profound negative consequences for its victims, yet we argue that objectification may have positive ancillary implications for the perpetrators. Drawing from system justification theory, we posit that, especially in organizations characterized by higher power distance, objectifying supervisors would be afforded more power by their subordinates because they would deem such behaviour as more typical (i.e., descriptive justification) and more desirable (i.e., prescriptive justification). The results of two experiments (N = 443 and N = 211) showed that high (vs. low) power distance subordinates afforded less power to a non-objectifying supervisor (but not more power to an objectifying supervisor), and that prescriptive justification (but not descriptive justification) mediated the interaction effect of objectification and power distance on power affordance. In a field survey with dyads of supervisors and subordinates (N = 122), we found that subordinates with relatively high power distance orientations afforded power to their objectifying supervisors through prescriptive justification. Our research contributes to objectification literature by demonstrating when and how supervisor objectification can be rationalized and perpetuated through granting objectifiers power.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 27, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 5, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2023
Journal European Journal of Social Psychology
Print ISSN 0046-2772
Electronic ISSN 1099-0992
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 4
Pages 681-702
Public URL


Published Journal Article (1.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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