New Study Highlights Objectification & Self-Esteem Issues on the Apps

Adonis on the apps: Online objectification, self-esteem, and sexual minority men.

Researchers at Columbia University and University of Texas at Austin examine the relationship between use of dating apps and self-esteem in sexual minority men. Dating apps can play a critical role in how sexual minority men internalize difficult standards of body image. Using objectification theory as a framework, the study tests associations between number of apps used, frequency of use, online objectification, internalization, and self-esteem.

Similar to online dating apps where people swipe left or right to find the best looking prospect, social media and fitness accounts have burgeoned. People present the best of themselves (with filters, hashtags, etc.) in social media. There are a number of accounts dedicated to fitness and weightlifting that is fundamentally changing the way we work out and the expectations we have about our bodies. Many Instagram fitness “celebrities” sell a message of self-love, but post images of thin or muscular bodies that are difficult to attain.

The Columbia and UT Austin researchers suggest future research that explores the long-term affects of online dating apps and online objectification. An interesting finding from their study is the more body-focused images an individual is exposed to, the more likely they are to experience a negative emotional or psychological effect. Online objectification and the perils to self-esteem may be related to the number of apps used rather than frequency of use. Posting pictures where a person’s face is cropped out while highlighting one’s body may have negatively affect self-esteem.

More information is needed to understand the role of online dating apps and social media on our perceptions of self and emotional well-being.

Check out the article in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinities.

Breslow, A. S., Sandil, R., Brewster, M. E., Parent, M. C., Chan, A., Yucel, A., Bensmiller, N., & Glaeser, E. (2019, April 4). Adonis on the Apps: Online Objectification, Self-Esteem, and Sexual Minority Men. Psychology of Men & Masculinities. Advance online publication.