Aggression Toward Sexualized Women Is Mediated by Decreased Perceptions of Humanness

Steven Arnocky, Erika L Ruddick, Valentina Proietti, Taylor-Rae Côté, Triana L Ortiz, Gordon Hodson, Justin M Carré
Psychological Science 2019 March 28, : 956797619836106
Researchers have argued that the regulation of female sexuality is a major catalyst for women's intrasexual aggression. The present research examined whether women behave more aggressively toward a sexualized woman and whether this is explained by lower ratings of the target's humanness. Results showed that women rated another woman lower on uniquely human personality traits when she was dressed in a sexualized (vs. conventional) manner. Lower humanness ratings subsequently predicted increased aggression toward her in a behavioral measure of aggression. This effect was moderated by trait intrasexual competitiveness; lower humanness ratings translated into more aggression, but only for women scoring relatively high on intrasexual competition. Follow-up studies revealed that the effect of sexualized appearance on perceived humanness was not due to the atypicality of the clothing in a university setting. The current project reveals a novel psychological mechanism through which interacting with a sexualized woman promotes aggressive behavior toward her.

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