Journal article

When Sex Doesn't Sell: Using Sexualized Images of Women Reduces Support for Ethical Campaigns

Renata Bongiorno, Paul G Bain, Nick Haslam



Images of scantily clad women are used by advertisers to make products more attractive to men. This "sex sells" approach is increasingly employed to promote ethical causes, most prominently by the animal-rights organization PETA. Yet sexualized images can dehumanize women, leaving an unresolved paradox--is it effective to advertise an ethical cause using unethical means? In Study 1, a sample of Australian male undergraduates (N = 82) viewed PETA advertisements containing either sexualized or non-sexualized images of women. Intentions to support the ethical organization were reduced for those exposed to the sexualized advertising, and this was explained by their dehumanization of the sexualiz..

View full abstract


Awarded by Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant

Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge support from the Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant DP0771200. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.