The object of affection: Subjectivity uncertainty increases objectification in close relationships

Lucas A. Keefer, Mark J. Landau, Daniel Sullivan, Zachary K. Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Previous research shows that people objectify strangers when led to feel uncertain about their ability to positively relate to those targets-termed subjectivity uncertainty. The current research goes further to examine whether, in the context of close relationships, subjectivity uncertainty causes people to adopt simplified perceptions of a relationship partner. Participants primed with subjectivity uncertainty about a relationship partner objectified that person more than participants primed with uncertainty about non-subjective aspects of their relationship (Study 1), subjectivity uncertainty about a different target (Study 2), or negative feelings about the relationship (Study 3). Mediation analyses showed that felt subjectivity uncertainty motivated these simplified perceptions (Studies 1 and 2) and that they are not the result of disliking the target (Study 3). These findings suggest that a desire to establish close relationships, coupled with uncertainty about one's ability to do so, may ironically motivate people to objectify close others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-504
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The object of affection: Subjectivity uncertainty increases objectification in close relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this