Sorry girls: fellow females hate your sexy profile shot, according to a new study. Researchers at Oregon State University found that women were more likely to look down on those who post provocative images online, branding them as less competent than those who cover up.
Elizabeth Daniels, assistant professor of psychology, studies the relationship between the media and girls’ body image. She conducted the project by creating two identical Facebook profiles for the fictitious Amanda Johnson, with one crucial difference: Hot Mandy’s picture featured her in a split-thigh red dress (garter and all), while Responsible Mandy’s photo saw her wearing jeans and a tee, with a scarf covering her breasts. Suffice to say, the lady in the red dress did not impress her female peers. Sensible, cleavage-free Amanda was responded to far more positively.
“This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos,” Daniels said. “There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive.”118 women participated in the study—58 of whom were teenagers aged 13-18, and 60 of whom were young adults aged 17-25. Candidates were assigned one of Amanda’s profiles at random and asked a series of questions on how they perceived her, with physical attractiveness, likeability, and competence being ranked. Both pages listed the same information, with Amanda’s interests including Twilight, Lady Gaga, and The Notebook.
The non-sexy profile scored higher on every count, confirming that people always judge a book by its cover—especially when that cover’s a little scandalous. Indeed, the biggest dip in the rankings was the response to the competency question, where participants were asked how capable Amanda seemed of being able to perform a task. Her risqué get-up obviously made it challenging for people to believe that she had any abilities at all.
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