This study investigated the role of self-objectification and Appearance Anxiety on marital satisfaction among married people. Two hundred and fifty-three (253) participants purposively selected from St, Peters Catholic Church, ministry of education and ministry of Health, in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State consisting of 109 males and 144 females with a mean age of 35.6 years. A survey design was adopted for the study. Three instruments were used in the study objectified body consciousness scale (Melkinley & Hyde, 1996), social Appearance Anxiety scale (Hart, David, Payo, Fresco, Holle & Henberg (2008) and couple’s satisfaction index (Funk & Rogge, 2007). A 2-way analysis of variance of unequal sample size was used to analyse the data. The result showed that married people who have high self-objectification experienced low marital satisfaction more than married people with low self-objectification (F, CI, 249) =3.979; p<0.5), thus was confirmed and significant. The result also revealed that married people who have high Appearance Anxiety reported low marital satisfaction more than married people with low Appearance Anxiety (LSD5.11; p> .05). It was therefore concluded that levels of self-objectification and Appearance Anxiety are predictors of marital satisfaction. Implication and recommendations for future study were made.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Satisfaction is the pleasure that one feels when they do something or get something that they wanted or needed to do or get. It is the art of satisfying or the state of being satisfied. Satisfaction is a pleasant or positive emotion. It can also be a feeling, or can even be a state of a mind. A person feels satisfied by accomplishment, recognition, invention, and service. The opposite of satisfaction is dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction occurs when we fail at doing something many times. Satisfaction is also motivator of behavior.
Marital satisfaction refers to a subjective global evaluation of one’s relationship (Narimani, Porzoor, Atadokht & Abbasi, 2015). Being in a satisfying marriage has consistently been associated with better physical health, mental health, and overall life satisfaction (Mirfardi, Edalati, & Redzuan, 2010). Conversely, marital distress, separation, and divorce have been linked to increased stress, poor physical health, and emotional (Narimani, Porzoor , Atadokht & Abbasi 2015). . Marriage as an institution has a crucial role in helping two individuals to have personal growth and enrichment from established family life. According to Fowers (1995), Love and marriage is the primary source of individual happiness and meaning in life. These fulfillment, happiness and positive development will be possible only when the relationship between couples is coherent and satisfactory. One of the most important goals of marriage is the will to attain marital satisfaction (Zainah, Nasir, & Ruzy, 2012). Marital satisfaction is a complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon, which has been extensively explored by the most diverse scientific fields (Rebello, Silva Junior, & Brito, 2014). According to Schoen et al., marital satisfaction is a global evaluation of the state of one’s marriage and a reflection of marital happiness and functioning. From an evolutionary perspective, marital satisfaction can be viewed as a psychological state of regulated mechanisms that monitor the benefits and costs of marriage to a particular person. In the definition of marital satisfaction, experts agree that it subjectively assesses quality of relationship (Farahmand & Ahmadnia, 2014). It seems that factors which influence or contribute to marital satisfaction may differ across cultures. For example, a husband’s income is a more important variable for marital satisfaction in Japan as compared to United States. After marriage, individuals seek a life full of happiness and satisfaction; therefore, more significant than the marriage itself is success in marriage and marital satisfaction. As a result, a decrease in marital satisfaction not only creates an inappropriate atmosphere in a family but also leads to family instability and divorce . Therefore, due to the significance of the balanced function of the family and preventing it from breaking up, it is necessary to know the effective factors in marital satisfaction which is the strengthening basis for married life (Stevens, Kiger, & Riley, (2001). In spite of widely studies about marital satisfaction, many researchers have claimed that some aspects still need to be explained. Moreover, Pleasant and relaxing couples relationship is not only suitable in order to their growth and flourishing, but also it is essential for children’s development and growth. So, it could be definitely considered as a factor for achieving life’s goals and is effectively influenced mental disorders in the community. Although, results of a study shows that almost all couples have high marital satisfaction in early years of marriage life but, it painfully decreases over time when their age increases (Motavalli , Ozgoli, Bakhtiari, 2008.). On the other hand, lack of marital satisfaction has important consequences such as impairment in social interaction, feelings of isolation and loneliness, lower life satisfaction and family disputes that note the importance of this factor again. Results of some studies have shown that factors such as social, economic (income) and employment situation as well as personality, cognitive, religious factors besides, dating before marriage, spousal age, number of children, couples’ age gap, addiction, education, gender, disease and sexual satisfaction involved in marital satisfaction. It is worth to mention that Chiung, (2005), have claimed that factors affecting marital relationship is obviously vary in different culture. The most marital dissatisfaction is related to women and in another study has been reported that marital satisfaction in women increases with age.
Nevertheless, Amato (2007) asserted that marital happiness have been equal among men and women. besides, the results of some studies show satisfaction about sexual activity is one of the most important factors affecting marital satisfaction, so lower satisfaction will occurs when sexual activity reduce due to aging by lack of stress and unhappiness. Marital satisfaction is a complex process that has over time been thought to be influenced by many factors, including education, socio-economic status, love, commitment, marital communication, conflict, gender, length of marriage, the presence of children, sexual relations and the division of labor (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1992). The presence of children has both negative and positive relation on marital satisfaction. In addition, studies have shown that there is a relationship between number of children, particularly preschool children, and marital satisfaction (Stevens, Kiger & Riley, 2001).Being an important element of marital life, sexual relationship and satisfaction derived from it has significant relation to have a warm and sustaining relationship between spouses. Husbands’ and wives’ ratings of satisfaction with their sexual relationship were significantly related to the overall satisfaction with their marital relationship (Young & luquis, 1998). Additionally, having low levels of education in large percentage of adults has been shown through a study could cause to lower level of satisfaction, since high education levels leads to better communication and conflict resolution skills in marriage.
The objectification theory (Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997) posits that men and women often are looked at as objects by society, with a sexual focus being placed on their bodies rather than on their abilities. The ubiquity of these objectification experiences socializes people to internalize an observer perspective upon their body. This process is called self-objectification and it occurs when people think about and treat themselves as objects to be regarded and evaluated based upon appearance (Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997; McKinley, 2011). Since the foundational work of Fredrickson and Roberts (1997), literature has largely demonstrated the damaging psychological corollary of self-objectification. Experimental research has shown that heightened self-objectification promotes general shame, appearance anxiety, drive for thinness, hinders task performances and increases negative mood (Moradi and Huang, 2008; Gervais et al., 2011; Rollero, 2013; Tiggemann, 2013). Consistently, correlational studies have found that self-objectification is related to appearance anxiety, body shame, positive attitudes toward cosmetic surgery, depression, sexual dysfunction and various forms of disordered eating (Miner-Rubino 2002; Calogero, 2009; Calogero, 2010; Peat and Muehlenkamp, 2011; Tiggemann and Williams, 2012). Most correlational studies have been cross sectional, but some longitudinal data are available as well and report similar outcomes (McKinley, 2006). Even if objectification theory was developed in reference to womens experiences, research has explored the applicability of this framework to investigate mens experience as well. Studies have shown that men report lower self-objectification than do women, but young male adults are becoming progressively more worried about their physical aspect (Weltzin , 2005; Moradi and Huang, 2008). This seems to be related to the growing tendency to objectify men’s bodies in Western societies, which increases body image concerns among men (Johnson, 2007; Daniel, 2014). In line with findings about women, mens self-objectification is correlated with lower self-esteem, negative mood, worse perceived health and disordered eating (Calogero, 2009; Rollero, 2013; Register, 2015; Rollero and De Piccoli, 2015). Moreover, self-objectification processes have been taken into account to explain drive for muscularity, excessive exercise and steroid use in men (Daniel and Bridges, 2010; Parent and Moradi, 2011). In sum, a great number of studies grounded in objectification theory have elucidated links between self-objectification processes and relevant psychological outcomes both in female and in male populations. Fewer studies have driven the attention to the potential antecedents of self-objectification. Most of them emphasize the role played by mass media: literature has clearly demonstrated the relationship between viewing objectified media models and both men and women’s self-objectification (e.g., Groesz, 2002; Tiggemann, 2003; Grabe, 2008; López-Guimerà, 2010; Rollero, 2013; Vandenbosch and Eggermont, 2014).
The internalization of the objectifying messages from the media leads individuals to self-objectify and guides the perception of their worth (Thompson and Stice, 2001; Vandenbosch and Eggermont, 2012; Karazsia, 2013). Recently, some authors have pointed out the necessity to address the ideological antecedents of self-objectification. In their experimental studies, Calogero and Jost (2011) found that women exposed to specific ideology, i.e., sexist attitudes, increase their level of self-objectification. They conclude that self-objectification can be considered as a consequence of an ideological pattern that justifies and preserves the societal status quo. Teng (2016), with a sample of Chinese women, showed that women’s values play a role in fostering a self-objectifying perspective, besides other sociocultural and interpersonal predictors. By means of an experimental study, these authors induced materialism and found that “certain situational cues that do not contain any explicit information about the physical body could give rise to self-objectification” (Teng, 2016). Thus, they demonstrated that materialism can trigger self-objectification tendencies. In line with this research, Teng, (2016) in their study with Chinese subjects showed that the more materialistic women are, the more likely that they adopt on an objectifying gaze upon themselves and show more monitoring of their body. Despite these two recent studies and few exceptions (Loughnan, 2015) for the impact of culture on male and female self-objectification; Myers and Crowther, (2007) for the role of feminist beliefs and Hurt, (2007) for the role of feminist identity) to the best of our knowledge no other research has explored the role played by specific ideological components, such as personal values, in the development of self-objectification. However, according to Howard (1985), values play an important role in shaping people attitudes and behaviors. For example, empirical studies have shown that self-objectification predicted greater body shame and greater appearance anxiety (Moradi & Huang, 2008). The construct of self-objectification is conceptualized as a learned trait (Calogero, 2011). However, it can also be elicited momentarily, such as through media use, and can lead to a state of self-objectification (Calogero, 2011, Moradi & Huang, 2008). There have been different approaches to operationalizing self-objectification because researchers understand it as a multifaceted concept (Calogero, 2011; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Vandenbosch & Eggermont, 2012, 2013).
Humans are social beings. They are born in a communication environment in society and are raised by establishing communication by social identities such as family, teachers, neighbors, relatives, friends, acquaintances and bosses until their death. However, the common feature of all people is that they influence and are influenced by people with whom they establish communication. The number of individuals who do not have the ability to express themselves, who cannot speak in front of others and who have “social concerns” in the society is pretty much in the society (Kağıtçıbaşı, 1988). It is a known fact that all people fear and become anxious under some circumstances. However, measuring the level of this emerging concern is important for psychologists, psychiatrists and educators. This is because treatment process and training programs can be prepared only in the light of such information (Öner and Le Compte, 1985). Social concern, also known as appearance anxiety, is defined as significant and persistent fear which emerges in social situations or in front of strangers or in situations that require performance in DSM-IV (APA, 2000). It is expressed as the fear of being eyed by other people in relatively small groups in ICD-10 (WHO, 1993).
Appearance anxiety is “the fear that one will be negatively evaluated because of one’s appearance” (Hart, 2008). Appearance anxiety is indeed positively correlated with social interaction anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, fear of scrutiny, and measures of negative body image (Hart, 2008). However, it does not appear to represent mere overlap among these other constructs. Instead, appearance anxiety has been found to be a unique construct highly related to social anxiety that taps into a unique proportion of variability in social anxiety beyond negative body image, depression, personality, and affect (i.e., social appearance anxiety predicts social anxiety when all of the constructs noted above are included in the regression equation) (Hart, 2008; Levinson & Rodebaugh, 2011). More specifically, social appearance anxiety differs from body image concerns because it focuses on fears evoked from being evaluated by others on one’s overall appearance, rather than a general dissatisfaction in one’s self-image because of body dissatisfaction. Based on the available evidence, we conceptualize social appearance anxiety as a negative social evaluative fear that is distinct from fear of negative evaluation because it focuses specifically on fears of judgment based on appearance versus negative evaluation fears more generally. That is, we see appearance anxiety as a specific type of fear of negative evaluation that requires measurement in its own right due to its greater specificity. Perceived flaws in appearance have been implicated as a possible core fear in social anxiety disorder (Moscovitch, 2009).