Everyone knows that sex sells. But then again, 600 years ago everyone knew that the world was flat. The thing about universal truths like “the Earth is flat” or “sex sells” is that eventually they become untrue and it takes a while for people to catch on. So I’m asking you, does sex still sell?
According to a new study published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, women don’t respond well to sexy advertisements, unless the sexy ads are for a product or service that is “superior and expensive.”
Researchers gathered men and women to look at ads for women’s watches. Some of the ads were sexy, others not so much. Some of the ads featured watches that were $10, others showed watches that were over $1,000. What they found was that women, “found sexual imagery distasteful when it was used to promote a cheap product, but this reaction to sexual imagery was mitigated if the product promoted was expensive.”
“We predicted and found that sexual ads promoting cheap products heightened feelings of being upset and angry among women,” the researchers added.
The Independent offered this explanation for women’s negative reaction to sexy ads for cheap products:
“Women generally show spontaneous negative attitudes toward sexual images,” writes psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, a researcher at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues. “Sexual economics theory offers a reason why: The use of sexual imagery is inimical to women’s vested interest in sex being portrayed as infrequent, special, and rare.”
Well, yeah that’s one way of looking at it. A real dumb, stupid way.
Personally, I don’t agree with Ms Vohs’s explanation because in my experience women aren’t interested in sex being portrayed as infrequent, special, or rare. Though I have no sexual economic theory to back up my view, I think men and women see themselves in media.
So when a woman sees a semi-nude woman for a cheap product, they see a reflection of themselves as a cheap, sexual object, which of course would elicit a negative reaction. And when they see a reflection of themselves a sexualized version of themselves for something elegant and expensive, that’s a positive association to have with a product.
Does that make any sense?