Male Underwear Models: Just People

According to a new study published in the May 2012 issue of Psychological Science, men and women in sexy underwear ads are processed astonishingly differently by the human brain. The brain processes women in underwear as objects, and men in underwear as people.

The difference in how brains process the two sexes is due in part to sexual objectification, which has been studied and documented at great length. Much of the documented research, however, focuses on only the effects of this objectification.

“What’s unclear is, we don’t actually know whether people at a basic level recognize sexualized females or sexualized males as objects,” says Philippe Bernard of Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

To test whether or not sexy men and women wearing underwear in suggestive poses were seen as people or objects, psychologists used a tried and true method of seeing if a test subject viewed an item as an object or something else: turning the image of the item in question upside down.

Why? Because pictures of humans create a recognition problem when turned upside down; objects, however, are easily identified whether right side up or not. According to a press release summarizing the study, psychologists conducting the study “used a test where they presented pictures of men and women in sexualized poses, wearing underwear. Each participant watched the pictures appear one by one on a computer screen. Some of the pictures were right side up and some were upside down. After each picture, there was a second of black screen, then the participant was shown two images. They were supposed to choose the one that matched the one they had just seen.”

Verdict? Test subjects recognized right-side-up men better than upside-down men, “suggesting that they were seeing the sexualized men as people.” The women, however, weren’t any harder to identify whether they were upside down or not, “which is consistent with the idea that people see sexy women as objects.”

It’s a constant problem for women, being viewed as an object instead of a person: this is common knowledge. The realization, however, that men in their underwear are, unlike their female counterparts, seen as people and not objects is a revelation that will have us scratching our heads for days.. underwear models are people?!

What do you think?

Courtesy Photo: Michael Kors