23 September 2020
To test the “sex sells” assumption, we examined how Italian men and women react to sexualized advertising. Women showed lower product attractiveness and purchase intentions toward products presented with sexualized female models than with neutral ads, whereas men were unaffected by ads’ sexualization (Study 1, n = 251). Study 2 (n = 197) replicated the overall results. Study 3 (n = 198) tested hostile sexism as a moderator as well as negative emotions as a mediator of consumers’ responses. Especially men with higher hostile sexism showed more purchase intentions after viewing female sexualized ads than neutral ads. Moreover, women’s lower consumer responses toward sexualized female ads were due to higher negative emotions. Study 4 (n = 207) included ads with both female and male models, replicating responses to female sexualization and showing that both women and men had lower product attractiveness and purchase intentions toward male sexualized ads than neutral ads. Replicating and extending Study 3’s results, women’s negative emotions was the mediator. The present study has practical implications for marketers because it suggests that “sex does not sell.” In addition, considering both the psychological damage and practical inefficacy of sexualized ads, our findings have important implications for public policy.
Gramazio, S., Cadinu, M., Guizzo, F. & Carnaghi, A. (2020). Does Sex Really Sell? Paradoxical Effects of Sexualization in Advertising on Product Attractiveness and Purchase Intentions. Sex Roles. DOI : 10.1007/s11199-020-01190-6
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