When sex doesn't sell: using sexualized images of women reduces support for ethical campaigns

Bongiorno, Renata, Bain, Paul G. and Haslam, Nick (2013) When sex doesn't sell: using sexualized images of women reduces support for ethical campaigns. PLoS One, 8 12: e83311.1-e83311.6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083311

Author Bongiorno, Renata
Bain, Paul G.
Haslam, Nick
Title When sex doesn't sell: using sexualized images of women reduces support for ethical campaigns
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2013-12-18
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0083311
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 12
Start page e83311.1
End page e83311.6
Total pages 6
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Subject 1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
2700 Medicine
Abstract Images of scantily clad women are used by advertisers to make products more attractive to men. This "sex sells" approach is increasingly employed to promote ethical causes, most prominently by the animal-rights organization PETA. Yet sexualized images can dehumanize women, leaving an unresolved paradox - is it effective to advertise an ethical cause using unethical means? In Study 1, a sample of Australian male undergraduates (N = 82) viewed PETA advertisements containing either sexualized or non-sexualized images of women. Intentions to support the ethical organization were reduced for those exposed to the sexualized advertising, and this was explained by their dehumanization of the sexualized women, and not by increased arousal. Study 2 used a mixed-gender community sample from the United States (N = 280), replicating this finding and extending it by showing that behaviors helpful to the ethical cause diminished after viewing the sexualized advertisements, which was again mediated by the dehumanization of the women depicted. Alternative explanations relating to the reduced credibility of the sexualized women and their objectification were not supported. When promoting ethical causes, organizations may benefit from using advertising strategies that do not dehumanize women.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 6 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sat, 28 Dec 2013, 01:45:16 EST by Renata Bongiorno on behalf of School of Psychology