Sexy Pictures Of Women Objectified In Ads
May 16, 2012

Sexy Pictures Of Women Objectified In Ads

A new study shows that when men and women look at sexy ads depicting women in their underwear, their brains see them as objects, not people. This study, published in Psychological Science, also found interestingly enough that men and women see men in their underwear as people.

This reaction, called sexual objectification, has been well examined, but most of the research is about looking at the effects of this objectification.

Philippe Bernard of Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium says, "What´s unclear is, we don´t actually know whether people at a basic level recognize sexualized females or sexualized males as objects."

Psychologists have found that in order to determine whether something is seen as an object is to turn it upside down. Pictures of people present a recognition problem when they´re turned upside down, but pictures of objects don´t have that problem.

Researchers devised a test in which they showed participants pictures of underdressed men and women on a computer screen with some of the pictures right-side-up and some upside-down. After each picture, there was a second of black screen, then the participant was shown two images. They were supposed to choose the one that matched the one they had just seen.

Both men and women recognized right-side-up men better than upside-down men, suggesting that they were seeing the men as people instead of objects (and thereby having recognition trouble). But the women in underwear weren´t any harder to recognize when they were upside down–which is consistent with the idea that people see sexy women as objects.

Women´s sexualized bodies are on display everywhere; billboards, buildings, Perfume ads, even the sides of buses. This suggests that we think of these images as if they were objects, not people.

Bernard, the study's lead researcher, said that the next step is to study how seeing sexualized women in advertising influences how people treat women.