Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

A Pilot Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Intervention to Reduce the Negative Effects of Sexual Objectification Among College Women

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Eric Dubow (Advisor)

Second Advisor

William O'Brien (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

John Liederbach (Other)


The present study describes the development and piloting of two brief interventions to reduce the negative effects of sexual objectification among college women: one using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and media literacy techniques and another using solely media literacy (ML). Specifically, the short-term effectiveness in terms of reducing negative body feelings, self-surveillance, and psychological inflexibility was evaluated for both interventions as compared to a control group who received no intervention. Trait self-objectification and internalization of appearance ideals were also evaluated as potential moderators of intervention and the outcome variables. Prior research has found ACT to be helpful for treating body image dissatisfaction (Atkinson & Wade, 2012; Berman, Morton, & Hegel, 2015; Follette, Heffner, & Pearson, 2010). However, no previous studies have combined media literacy with ACT techniques to provide a group-based body image intervention. The present study aimed to fill this void. Data were collected from 167 undergraduate females who were randomly assigned to participate in a 4-hour ACT or ML intervention, or no intervention. Participants were given questionnaires pre- and post-intervention to assess changes in the outcome variables (negative body feelings, self-surveillance, and psychological inflexibility). The results found the ML intervention to be most effective in reducing all outcome variables. Furthermore, minimal evidence was found to support trait self-objectification, internalization of media appearance ideals, and internalization of muscular appearance ideals as moderating variables. Findings from the current study have implications for future research, including identifying the appropriate dosage for ACT interventions.