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The effects of a sexualized media environment on women’s sexual self-views and men’s sexual views of their partners

By L. van de Laar


The debate on the sexualization of the media and its possible negative influences on young people is booming. So far most research has focused on children and adolescents, thereby neglecting the adult age group. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of a short exposure to sexually tainted material on adult women’s sexual self-view. The effect was expected to be reflected in a greater discrepancy between actual and ideal sexual self-view. The second goal of this research was to investigate the relations between sexual self-schemata and sexual and relationship satisfaction. In addition, it was investigated if a short exposure to sexually tainted images effects men’s views of their female partner. The effect was expected to be reflected in a greater discrepancy between actual and ideal sexual partner. Moreover, it was expected that men’s sexual views of their female partners would be more positive than the views women have of themselves. Results indicated that, independent of condition, women did exhibit a partial discrepancy between actual-ideal sexual self. This discrepancy seems to be influenced by positive attitudes toward erotica and comparison orientation. Viewing sexually tainted material did not increase this discrepancy, relative to a control condition. In men, viewing sexually tainted material did significantly effect actual-ideal discrepancies in partner-schemata. Men did not rate their partners any different than do the women themselves. Further, length of relationship and age were negatively correlated to openness and directness in women, which may be explained by established patterns of interaction between partners. In men sexual and relationship satisfaction may be negatively connected to discrepancies in actual-ideal partner. This relation may be explained in that men who have more satisfying (sexual) relationships may have partners which closely resemble their ideal view of a partner. Further research needs to be done, with larger samples and paying attention to an equal variance of the sample and maybe using the bipolar instead of the bivariate model of sexual self-schemata

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, Sexualized media, women’s sexual self-schemata, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, male partners, actual-ideal discrepancies
Year: 2009
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