A Test of Media Literacy Effects and Sexual Objectification in Advertising

Building on past research, a media literacy video demonstrating how women are sexually objectified in the media was found to have significant effects on cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral responses to ads containing objectifying images of women. As expected,females had uniformly negative responses to the ads after watching the video compared to women who did not watch the video. Contrary to previous research, however, the treatment had no effect on males' perceptions. In other words, men were no more likely to identify sexualized ads involving women, and the intervention had no influence on men's feelings toward those portrayals (Aad), the ad's sponsor (Ab), or purchase intention. Overall, the findings support a media literacy effect and a gender effect that should be considered by advertising executives and in any media literacy component pertaining to sexualized images of women in advertising.