Stanford University study: Sexualization of women in the tech world

21 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:    Eliana Dockterman reported in the Time article, How Using Sexy Female Avatars in Video Games Changes Women:

It’s not “just a game.”

The debate over whether we should worry about little boys playing violent video games never seems to die down. But maybe we should be fretting just as much about little girls playing those same games. Women who used sexy avatars to represent themselves in video games were more likely to objectify themselves in real life. Not only that, they were more likely to accept what’s called rape myth — i.e., the idea that a woman is in some way to blame for her rape — according to a Stanford study published on Oct. 11 in Computers and Human Behavior.

We’ve known for a long time that the oversexualization of women has a negative impact on the female psyche: one experiment asked women to try on either a bikini or a sweater; those who tried on a bikini reported feeling shame about their bodies and performed more poorly on a math test than their sweater-wearing counterparts. And studies have shown that sexualization of women in the media can negatively impact young girls’ body image. It’s for that very reason that moms worry about their daughters watching the Video Music Awards.

But playing Lara Croft — the wasp-waisted, impossibly large-breasted protagonist in the Tomb Raider video-game series who fights bad guys in an ever-so-practical tight tank top and short shorts — might be worse than watching Miley Cyrus twerking in a bikini. Researchers have demonstrated that embodying characters in virtual worlds has a stronger effect on gamers than just passively watching a character; game play can influence off-line beliefs, attitudes and action thanks to a phenomenon called the Proteus effect in which an individual’s behavior conforms to their digital identity.

And if your avatar resembles you (i.e., you’re playing with a dopplegänger), the game can make an even greater impression. Previous studies have shown playing with a dopplegänger can lead the user to replicate the dopplegänger’s eating patterns, experience physiological arousal or prefer a brand of product endorsed by the dopplegänger. Given that connection, this new study looked at whether embodying sexualized female avatars online changed women’s behavior.

The Stanford researchers asked 86 women ages 18 to 40 to play using either a sexualized (sexily dressed) avatar or a nonsexualized (conservatively dressed) avatar. Then, researchers designed some of those avatars to look like the player embodying them.

Those women who played using sexualized avatars who looked like them were more accepting of the rape myth, according to the study. After playing the game, women responded to many questions with answers along a five-point scale (from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”), including, “In the majority or rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation.” Those who played sexy avatars who looked like themselves were more likely to answer “agree” or “strongly agree” than those women who had nonsexy avatars who did not look like them.

Participants were also asked to freewrite their thoughts after the study. Those with sexualized avatars were more likely to self-objectify in their essays after play.
http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/14/how-using-sexy-female-avatars-in-video-games-changes-women/#ixzz2iO2AozzM

Here is the citation for the study:

Computers in Human Behavior The embodiment of sexualized virtual selves: The Proteus effect

and experiences of self-objectification via avatars

Jesse Fox⇑

, Jeremy N. Bailenson1

, Liz Tricase 2

Department of Communication, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94040, USA

http://vhil.stanford.edu/pubs/2013/fox-chb-sexualized-virtual-selves.pdf

Moi wrote in Sexualization of girls: A generation looking much too old for their maturity level:

Just ride the bus, go to the mall or just walk down a city street and one will encounter young girls who look like they are ten going on thirty. What’s going on with that? Moi wrote about the sexualization of girls in Study: Girls as young as six think of themselves as sex objects:

In Children too sexy for their years, moi said:

Maybe, because some parents may not know what is age appropriate for their attire, they haven’t got a clue about what is appropriate for children. There is nothing sadder than a 40 something, 50 something trying to look like they are twenty. What wasn’t sagging when you are 20, is more than likely than not, sagging now.

Kristen Russell Dobson, the managing editor of Parent Map, has a great article in Parent Map. In Are Girls Acting Sexy Too Young?  

http://www.parentmap.com/article/are-girls-acting-sexy-too-young

The culture seems to be sexualizing children at an ever younger age and it becomes more difficult for parents and guardians to allow children to just remain, well children, for a bit longer. Still, parents and guardians must do their part to make sure children are in safe and secure environments. A pole dancing fourth grader is simply unacceptable.

Moi loves fashion and adores seeing adult looks on adults. Many 20 and 30 somethings prefer what I would charitably call the “slut chic” look. This look is questionable fashion taste, in my opinion, but at least the look involves questionable taste on the part of adults as to how they present themselves to the public. http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/children-too-sexy-for-their-years/

http://drwilda.com/tag/study-girls-as-young-as-6-are-thinking-of-selves-as-sex-objects/

Steve Biddulph wrote in the Daily Mail article, The corruption of a generation: In a major Mail series, a renowned psychologist argues that our daughters are facing an unprecedented crisis… sexualisiation from primary school age:

Over the past few years, I’ve discussed the issue of modern girlhood with numerous friends and colleagues, and everyone has observed the same phenomenon: girls are simply growing up too fast.

To put it bluntly, our 18 is their 14. Our 14 is their 10. Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault — from ads, alcohol marketing, girls’ magazines, sexually explicit TV programmes and the hard pornography that’s regularly accessed in so many teenagers’ bedrooms.

The result is that many girls effectively lose four years of crucial development, which may take years in therapy to retrieve. Meanwhile, these girls are filling our mental clinics, police stations and hospitals in unprecedented numbers. Not only that, but having sex with lots of different boys is not good for their bodies. Levels of sexual infections are soaring — including chlamydia, which may affect their fertility.

Less well-known is the fact that the rapid surge in the numbers of girls who perform oral sex is leading to a far greater incidence of mouth and throat cancers.

So why are so many girls succumbing to sexual pressures? And what can we, as parents, do to protect our daughters from the very real perils of our modern world?

The first thing to be said is that the current generation is, at least in one unenviable sense, utterly unique: it’s the first to grow up exposed to hard-core pornography.

Sexting: Girls as young as ten years old are now sending sexual images of themselves on their phones (picture posed by models)

In a recent survey, 53 per cent of girls under 13 reported that they had watched or seen porn. By the age of 16, that figure rose to 97 per cent.

‘My child wouldn’t go looking for porn,’ you may say. But your child doesn’t have to be looking: porn will find them….

SOME TOP TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR DAUGHTERS SAFE

  • Remove all digital media from your daughter’s bedroom, including the TV.  Have a rule that all members of the family charge and leave their phones in the kitchen each night.

  • Make sure she’s using the maximum privacy settings online. Some parents make it a condition that for a child to have an account on social media, she must have you as a ‘friend’.

  • Know the rules. Children aren’t supposed to have a Facebook account until they’re 13. They may feel left out, but you need to be firm.

  • Either download or have devices installed on your home computers that filter out porn. Ask your daughter to use her computer only in the kitchen, study or living room.

  • Set limits on time allowed for social networking.

  • Keep the channels of communication open, so that if your daughter sees something online which distresses her, she won’t be ashamed to tell you about it. If you suspect that your daughter is visiting sites that are harmful, raise it with her. Intervene.

  • Know the law. If an 18-year-old posts sexualised images of younger people, he or she is at risk of criminal charges.

  • Never snoop around in your daughter’s bedroom — but do check her phone if you suspect she’s being sent sexual texts or images. Sexting is public behaviour, because anyone can view images or texts and pass them on. And parents have a better understanding of the possible consequences.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2264781/Corrupting-generation-In-new-major-Mail-series-renowned-psychologist-Steve-Biddulph-argues-daughters-facing-unprecedented-crisis.html#ixzz2IRmlHbbz

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/sexualization-of-girls-a-generation-looking-much-too-old-for-their-maturity-level/

Here is the press release from Stanford about the study;

Stanford Report, October 10, 2013

Sexualized avatars affect the real world, Stanford researchers find

A Stanford study shows that after women wear sexualized avatars in a virtual reality world, they feel objectified and are more likely to accept rape myths in the real world. The research could have implications for the role of female characters in video games.

BY CYNTHIA MCKELVEY

Researchers at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab are delving into questions posed by sexualized depictions of women in video games.

Specifically, do female players who use provocatively dressed avatars begin to see themselves more as objects and less as human beings? Jeremy Bailenson, the director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, has found a way to use virtual reality to answer that question.

This and other issues take on real-world significance as the numbers of female video game players rise despite the industry’s general lack of relatable female characters and as  notoriously violent video games (such as the popular Rockstar Games series, Grand Theft Auto V) continue their rise in popularity.

“We often talk about video game violence and how it affects people who play violent video games,” Bailenson said. “I think it’s equally important to think about sexualization.”

Bailenson is particularly interested in the Proteus Effect: how the experience of acting in a virtual body, known as an avatar, changes people’s behavior in both the virtual and real worlds. For example, when someone wears an avatar that is taller than his actual self, he will act more confidently. People who see the effects of exercise on their bodies in the virtual world will exercise more in the real world.

Proteus Effect and sexualization

 Bailenson and co-author Jesse Fox published a research paper in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that examined how becoming a sexualized avatar affected women’s perceptions of themselves. Participants donned helmets that blocked out the real world, immersing them in a virtual world of 3-D sight and sound. Motion sensors on their wrists and ankles allowed for the lab’s many infrared cameras to record their motions as they moved identically in both worlds.

Once in the new world, each participant looked in a virtual mirror and saw herself or another woman, dressed provocatively or conservatively. The avatar’s movements in the mirror perfectly copied the participant’s actual physical movements, allowing her to truly feel as if she occupied that body.

The researchers then introduced a male accomplice into the virtual world to talk to the participant. What seemed like a normal, get-to-know-you conversation was actually an assessment of how much the women viewed themselves as objects. Women “wearing” the sexualized avatars bearing their likenesses talked about their bodies, hair and dress more than women in the other avatars, suggesting that they were thinking of themselves more as objects than as people.

After their time in the virtual world, the participants filled out a questionnaire rating how much they agreed with various statements. Bailenson and Fox folded rape myths such as “in the majority of rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation” into the questionnaire. Participants rated how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The participants who had worn the sexualized avatars tended to agree with rape myths more than the women who had worn the non-sexualized avatars. Women in sexualized avatars whose faces resembled their own agreed with the myths more than anyone else in the study.

Becoming the protagonist

 The Entertainment Software Association estimates that across mobile, PC and console platforms, 45 percent of American gamers are female. But few game titles feature female protagonists. In many popular games in this fast-growing industry, female characters are in the minority; more often than not, they are sexualized.

Many female gamers assert that gaming culture is not welcoming to women. The websitenotinthekitchenanymore.com collects user-submitted accounts of sexual harassment women experience in online platforms such as Xbox Live. When women critique sexism in games and gamer culture, they are often dismissed or even bullied. Pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian faced a barrage of cyber-bullying – including threats of rape and death – for announcing a project examining common tropes of female characters in video games.

Some gamers maintain that virtual worlds and the real world remain mutually exclusive, but the research by Bailenson and Fox suggests differently. “It changes the way you think about yourself online and offline,” Bailenson said. “It used to be passive and you watched the characters. You now enter the media and become the protagonist. You become the characters.”

Cynthia McKelvey is an intern at the Stanford News Service

Media Contact

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965, dstober@stanford.edu

Dr. Wilda has been just saying for quite a while.

Resources

Popwatch’s Miley Cyrus Pole Dance Video

http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/08/10/miley-cyrus-pole-dancing-at-the-teen-choice-awards-rather-unfortunate-yes/

Baby Center Blog Comments About Miley Cyrus Pole Dance

http://blogs.babycenter.com/celebrities/billy-ray-cyrus-defends-mileys-artistic-pole-dancing/

The Sexualization of Children

http://www.tellinitlikeitis.net/2009/03/the-sexualization-of-children-and-adolescents-epidemic.html

Related:

Let’s speak the truth: Values and character training are needed in schools

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/lets-speak-the-truth-values-and-character-training-are-needed-in-schools/

Do ‘grown-ups’ have to be reminded to keep their clothes on in public? Apparently so

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/do-grown-ups-have-to-be-reminded-to-keep-their-clothes-on-in-public-apparently-so/

Where information leads to Hope. ©Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

http://drwilda.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: