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Are Good Looks Problematic for Women?

Are Good Looks Problematic for Women?Does being attractive hamper a coed’s intellectual development? A new study in social psychology suggests it does.

In the study, women who are looked at as sexual objects not only react as sexual objects, they also exhibit less proficiency with math.

The research examined the effect of the “objectifying gaze” (the visual inspection of one’s body by another person) on undergraduates’ math performance.

Motivation to interact with the objectifying person in the future was also measured as well as body image outcomes, including body surveillance, body shame, and body dissatisfaction.

One hundred and fifty undergraduates (67 women and 83 men) from a large U.S. Midwestern university participated in the study.

Researchers found that the objectifying gaze lowered women’s math performance, but not men’s. The objectifying gaze also increased women’s, but not men’s, motivation to have further interactions with their partner.

Finally, the research found that an objectifying gaze did not influence body surveillance, body shame, or body dissatisfaction for women or men.

“The objectifying gaze is particularly problematic for women,” according to Drs. Sarah J. Gervais, Theresa K. Vescio, and Jill Allen.

“And it may lead to a vicious cycle in which women are first objectified and, as a result, underperform, confirming the notion that women’s looks are more important than what they can do.”

The research will published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.

Source: SAGE Publications

Are Good Looks Problematic for Women?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Are Good Looks Problematic for Women?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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