Undressed for Success? The Effects of Half-Dressed Women on Economic Behavior
49 Pages Posted: 10 May 2018 Last revised: 26 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 24, 2019
Images of half-dressed women are ubiquitous in advertising and popular culture. Yet relatively little is known about the potential impacts of such images on economic decision making. In this paper, we examine how exposure to images of half-dressed women affect risk taking, willingness to compete and math performance. We perform a lab experiment with a total of 648 participants of both genders, randomly exposing participants to advertising images including either women in bikini or underwear, fully dressed women, or no women. Exposure to images of half-dressed women could potentially have effects on economic preferences and performance through channels such as arousal, cognitive load and stereotyping. Following a pre-registered pre-analysis plan, we find no treatment effects on any of the outcome measures for female participants. For male participants, we also find no effect on willingness to compete or math performance, but our results indicate that men take more risk after having been exposed to images of half-dressed women compared to images including no women. We thus do not find any strong support for the hypothesis that exposure to images of half-dressed women impact economic preferences, but given the indications of an effect on men's risk taking future studies should explore this further.
Keywords: economic decision making, risk preferences, willingness to compete, altruism, experiment
JEL Classification: D03, C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation