When a person self-objectifies, she looks at her body as if it is an object. New research indicates the ability to concentrate on, and count, one’s own heartbeats translates into a lower tendency to objectify oneself.

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway university in London, England, asked healthy female student volunteers between the ages of 19 and 26 to concentrate and count their own heartbeats, simply by listening to their bodies.

Their accuracy in this heartbeat perception test was compared with their perception of their bodies as objects, measured by scores on the Self-Objectification Questionnaire.

According to the results, the more accurate the women were in detecting their heartbeats, the less they tended to think of their bodies as objects.

There is a danger that some women, and some men, can develop an excessive tendency to regard their bodies as objects, while neglecting to value them from within, for their physical competence and health.

“Women who ‘self-objectify’, in this way, are vulnerable to eating disorders and a range of other clinical conditions such as depression and sexual dysfunction,” noted investigator Dr. Manos Tsakiris.

Fellow researcher Vivien Ainley said, “We believe that our measure of body awareness, which assesses how well women are able to listen to their internal signals, will prove a valuable addition to research into self-objectification and women’s resulting mental health.”

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