The Costs of Sexualization: Examining Viewers’ Perceptions of Sexualized Profile Owners in Online Dating

Kun Yan, Larissa Terán, Heather Gahler, Jade Salmon, Leah Dajches, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has documented the social costs of sexualized Facebook profiles (Daniels, 2016, 2020; Daniels & Zurbriggen, 2016), yet little is known whether such effects exist in a critically important venue for relationship formation: online dating. Using the stereotype content model, this online experiment examined whether sexualized dating profiles, versus nonsexualized dating profiles, incur social costs (e.g., being rated low on competence, warmth, humanity, liking, social attractiveness, romantic attractiveness, and likelihood of experiencing sexual cyber dating abuse). A total of 262 heterosexual undergraduates (166 women and 96 men) participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to evaluate 2 sexualized or nonsexualized online dating candidates of the opposite sex. Results indicated that sexualized profile owners were evaluated lower on competence, liking, social attractiveness, were perceived to be at a heightened likelihood of experiencing sexual cyber dating abuse, and were considered less likely to seek long-term relationships than their nonsexualized counterparts. Some interaction effects between target gender and sexualization were also observed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2022

Keywords

  • Experiment
  • Online dating
  • Profile photos
  • Sexualization
  • Stereotype content model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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