Sexy Science: How We Look At Half Naked People

Naughty Nerdy geek and half naked hot chickScientific American reports on a psychology study about half-naked people and ideas of objectification. In six different experiments, a group of people were shown images of clothed and half-naked men and women and instructed to rate their mental capacities.

Interestingly, the ratings weren’t influenced by gender. Put simply, men don’t objectify women more. It seems to be a human trait to think differently about people with less clothing. From the article:

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Subjects rated clothed people as having more self-control, better communication and better morals than half naked people. But subjects rated scantily-clad women and men as having a higher capacity for experiencing pleasure, as well as fear and pain. This latter group was also, curiously enough, thought of as more sensitive and needing more protection from fear or pain.

For example, subjects were asked if they’d administer harmless but painful electric shocks to another person. They chose to shock those fully clothed significantly more often than those exposed above the waist.

The abstract of the study (found here) has got me thinking about how this psychological perception applies to anti-porn activists.

Drawing on the distinction in mind perception between agency and experience, it is found that focusing on someone’s body reduces perceptions of agency (self-control and action) but increases perceptions of experience (emotion and sensation)… The effect of a body focus on mind perception also influenced moral intuitions, with those represented as a body seen to be less morally responsible (i.e., lesser moral agents) but more sensitive to harm.

The above paragraph sounds like a summary of how anti-porn activists judge women who appear in porn. They often tend to dismiss the intellectual abilities of performers, instead depicting them as emotionally vunerable victims or morally damaged people (e.g. “she must have been abused as a child”, “she’s a drug addict”). I find it interesting that this study was looking at the process of “objectifying” people and objectification is the most common complaint about porn. Perhaps the anti-porn campaigners are doing a fair bit of objectifying of their own.

Pic: This is the gorgeous Aeryn from Naughty Nerdy. She’s a prime example of why you shouldn’t assume porn stars are dumb. Please visit her blog for various musings on Dungeons and Dragons, gaming, politics and sex.

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