Sexual Objectification Reduces Pain Concern

The Moral Concern for Scantily Dressed Men and Women

Posted May 14, 2011

Imagine you are shown images of women and men. Some of these images are scantily dressed women and men; others are not. You are then told to imagine that the people in these images are in pain, and that you have a limited amount of pills to help reduce their pain.

If you are like most people, you would have more moral concern for the people who were not sexualized (wearing less clothing). In other words, you would be more willing to allow the sexually dressed people to suffer.

If you are like most people, you also will assign them less "mind" (basically thoughts and emotions) and rate them as less competent. You would do this whether you were male or female, or whether or not the images were male or female.

This is consistent with recent studies headed by Stephen Loughnan, professor of psychology at The University of Kent.

Of course, there is a huge difference between harming a real person and hypothetically harming people in pictures. However, this research does suggest that people, in their minds at least, would be more willing to allow a sexualized person to suffer than a fully clothed person.


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