The Price of Sexy

Using an experimental methodology, a study published recently in Psychology of Popular Media Culture assessed adolescent girls’ and young adult women’s perceptions of a peer who presented herself on Facebook in either a sexualized or nonsexualized manner. Fifty-eight adolescent girls and 60 young adult women viewed a Facebook profile with either a sexualized profile photo or a nonsexualized profile photo and then evaluated the profile owner. Results indicated that the sexualized profile owner was considered less physically attractive, less socially attractive, and less competent to complete tasks. There was a main effect of age in the judgment of social attractiveness, with young adult women giving higher ratings than adolescent girls. There were no other main effects of age or interactions between age and condition. Findings suggest that using a sexualized profile photo on Facebook comes with relational costs for girls and women. Strategies for educating young people about new media use and sexualization are discussed.

For the abstract


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