Pictures were taken by a professional photographer and tightly controlled for posture, expression and lighting – only the presence of clothing varied between them. The ‘sexualized’ photograph showed the unclothed model with a border indicating she was starring in an erotic movie.
Participants were asked to rate the photographs “Compared to the average person, how much is this person capable of X.” In the place of “X” were 6 agency-related words (self-control, acting morally, planning, communication, memory, and thought) and 6 experience-related words (feeling pain, feeling pleasure, feeling desire, feeling fear, feeling rage, feeling joy)
When the photographs showed clothed models, participants described the models as professional and competent. When the models were shown unclothed, participants’ ratings became less professional and competent, and relatively more tied to experience and sensation. The sexually suggestive photograph was linked to decreased perceptions of agency but increased perceptions of experience, suggesting that sexualizing people does not lead to objectification, but instead to a redistribution of mind.
In other words, when the body was made more salient, people decreased their ascriptions of agency, but they actually increased their ascriptions of experience.
In short, it doesn’t look like pornography is leading men to treat women as mere ‘objects’ (like a table). Instead, we seem to be getting something that might be called animalification—treating a woman as though she lacks the capacity for complex thinking and reasoning, but at the same time, treating her as though she was even more capable of having strong feelings and emotional responses. The “mind” category contains one particular part of the mind, the capacity for thinking and reasoning; the body category includes both the body and a second part of the mind, the capacity for more visceral emotions and passions. Hence, if one focuses on a person’s body, one becomes simultaneously less inclined to attribute to that person a capacity for abstract thought and more inclined to attribute seething desires and feelings. one study found that the more an entity was perceived as capable of feeling pain, pleasure, fear and desire, the more it deserved to be protected from harm
#psychology #gender #objectification