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Objectification

 

Explanations > Theories > Objectification

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Complex ideas are, almost by definition, difficult to understand. To help us make sense of them, we turn them into concrete images. There are three processes by which objectification is done:

  • Ontologizing gives an idea physical properties, for example by using close metaphors like the ‘mind as a computer’.
  • Figuration turns the ideas into pictures or images, for example traffic ‘jams’.
  • Personification turns the idea into a person. For example, a genius as Einstein.

The term 'objectification' or depersonification is also used to describe the way we treat other people as objects, in particular the way men can treat women as sex 'objects'. By reducing other people to things, it permits us to treat them with less care and human concern, bypassing our values around this subject.

Example

This car is like a thoroughbred race-horse. Just imagine thundering up the roads, with trees and houses flying by. People will think you are Michael Schumacher.

In war, effort is often put into depersonifying the other side, thus legitimizing and even encouraging killing them. 

So what?

Using it

Explain your ideas through analogous or metaphorical things, pictures or people.

Defending

Just because the other person can explain their ideas clearly, it does not mean they are good ideas.

See also

Deindividuation

References

Moscovici (1984), Moscovici and Hewstone (1983)

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