Exposure to Sexualized Advertisements Disrupts Children’s Math Performance by Reducing Working Memory

Exposure to Sexualized Advertisements Disrupts Children’s Math Performance by Reducing Working... Despite the recommendations from the American Psychological Association’s (APA, 2007) task force on the sexualization, no known research has shown the effects of sexualized advertisements on children’s cognitive abilities. The present experiments address this question with a sample of 8–10 year-olds. Primary school children were exposed to advertisements that portrayed sexualized vs. non-sexualized children and then were asked to complete a math test (Study 1 and Study 2) preceded by a working memory test (Study 2). As predicted, exposure to sexualized images of girls hampered girls’, but not boys’, math performance (Study 1, N = 79). Findings from Study 2 (N = 102) replicated Study 1’s results for girls and demonstrated that sexualized ads of boys disrupted boys’ math performance as well, thus indicating that same-gender sexualized images are disruptive for both girls’ and boys’ cognitive performance. Moreover, the detrimental effect of same-gender sexualized images on both girls’ and boys’ math performance was mediated by a reduction in working memory resources. These findings clearly demonstrate the damaging effects of sexualized advertisements on children’s cognitive performance and suggest the urgency of implementing interventions aimed at combating sexualization in early childhood, which transmits the cultural message that having a sexy (young or adult) body is extremely important. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Exposure to Sexualized Advertisements Disrupts Children’s Math Performance by Reducing Working Memory

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-016-0581-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Despite the recommendations from the American Psychological Association’s (APA, 2007) task force on the sexualization, no known research has shown the effects of sexualized advertisements on children’s cognitive abilities. The present experiments address this question with a sample of 8–10 year-olds. Primary school children were exposed to advertisements that portrayed sexualized vs. non-sexualized children and then were asked to complete a math test (Study 1 and Study 2) preceded by a working memory test (Study 2). As predicted, exposure to sexualized images of girls hampered girls’, but not boys’, math performance (Study 1, N = 79). Findings from Study 2 (N = 102) replicated Study 1’s results for girls and demonstrated that sexualized ads of boys disrupted boys’ math performance as well, thus indicating that same-gender sexualized images are disruptive for both girls’ and boys’ cognitive performance. Moreover, the detrimental effect of same-gender sexualized images on both girls’ and boys’ math performance was mediated by a reduction in working memory resources. These findings clearly demonstrate the damaging effects of sexualized advertisements on children’s cognitive performance and suggest the urgency of implementing interventions aimed at combating sexualization in early childhood, which transmits the cultural message that having a sexy (young or adult) body is extremely important.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 30, 2016

References

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