Do Sexualized Images of Women Make Men Less Charitable?

Money changing handsFor decades, women’s advocates have argued that sexualized advertisements of women harm women’s self-esteem and increase gender disparities. According to new research, though, sexualized images of women aren’t just a source of sexism. They might also make men less generous toward charities and other organizations’ fundraising efforts.

How Sexualized Media Decreases Charity

We’ve all heard the old adage that sex sells, but the real picture is a bit more complicated. Organizations, from businesses to charitable causes, routinely use images of thin, attractive, scantily clad young women to attract attention and sell products. Researchers wanted to evaluate how effective these advertisements are, so they evaluated men aged 18 to 24—an age group frequently targeted by these ads.

Researchers presented the men with sexualized images of women, appealing but nonsexual images such as landscapes, or no pictures at all. They found that men who saw images of sexualized women focused more on how their own bodies felt, talking more frequently about sensations such as exhaustion or excitement. Compared to men who saw other images, they spoke less frequently about the kind of people they are, talking less about their intelligence, friendliness, or attitudes toward others.

Men who saw sexualized images of women also identified less frequently with other people and more frequently expressed a sense of disconnectedness with others. This led these men to be less interested in marketing campaigns that discussed how a product could benefit others. This sense of disconnectedness even extended to charitable giving. Men who saw sexualized images of women were less likely to give $10 to a student of either sex, and were less willing to purchase a T-shirt to support wildlife protection.

Researchers point out that this research might change the way some businesses and charities choose to advertise their products. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for example, has long used images of naked women to attract attention to animal rights issues. It could be that such approaches actually reduce the likelihood that viewers will behave charitably.


Do ads showing sexy women make male consumers less charitable? (2014, September 18). Retrieved from

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  • Olivia

    September 20th, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    do you mean just to charities whose primary beneficiaries are women or charitable giving in general?

  • Bennie

    September 20th, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Come on they are guys what do you think that they are going to think about? I don’t think that it is probably about feeling less charitable toward others, but it is about the fact that they are thinking about the women. Men think about women all the time, I don’t think that this makes them bad people, it’s just what we do. It’s kind of the way we are hard wired

  • shayla

    September 22nd, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Truthfully? It sickens me that that advertisers still feel the need to minimalize females with the images and portrayals that they continue to insist on using.

    But even more so? That so many continue to buy into it and drink the kool aid that they are pushing

  • Grady

    September 23rd, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    There will be people who blame who they are on just about anything and for me this just feels like one more excuse. I think that much of this is not going to come from random images but it si about who this person is becasue of the things that they have been privy to when growing up. If this is the kind of home that they were raised in, then this is going to be the type of person that they are. I don’t think that the things that we see on a random basis will encourage this sort of behavior if it is not something that they already feel on the inside. Sure it could reinforce what they already believe and what their tendencies would be but I think that this goes far deeper than sexualized pics of women.

  • Saul

    September 25th, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    It is the shock value that many companies, both for profit and non profit, are often going for and sometimes the most graphic thing that the marketers can come up with, somehting that they know will grab your attention, is nakedness, or at least the suggestion of it. While I am okay with this if done tastefully and really have no idea of how it influences charity or not, I think that the older I get I am not shocked and drawn in the way that they would hope. I think that they hope this will cause me to take a second look at their product and picture myself with it as a part of my life, but really for the most part I think about it with pity and how I can do without it pretty much due to the fact that I don’t agree with how the people in the ads are most likely being marginalized.

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