Negative Judgments about Beautiful Women’s Sex Lives and Self-esteem
self-esteem, sex, sex roles, Stereotypes, women
North American Journal of Psychology
The purpose of the present study was to perform an extension of research by Krems et al. (2021) on gendered stereotypes of sexual behavior. Across six experiments with U.S. participants, Krems et al., (2021) found that participants judged women engaging in casual sex to have lower self-esteem than women having sex in the context of committed relationships. In contrast, men engaged in casual sex were not judged as having lower self-esteem. Our experimental design manipulated gender (male, female) and sexual activity (casual sex, committed sex) of physically attractive fictional target persons using four written descriptions. Randomly assigned participants each read a description and then were asked to estimate the self-esteem of the target person in the description. Our results showed that target persons of both genders who were portrayed as having casual sex were evaluated as having lower self-esteem. We found this effect in two studies, one with American and one with Iranian college student samples, supporting the external validity of the result. We found weak support for a sexual double-standard, wherein attractive women (but not attractive men) portrayed as engaging in casual sex were judged to have lower self-esteem. Further research is needed to determine whether the magnitude of the double-standard is affected by other factors.
Department of Psychology
Original Publication Date
Hitlan, Robert T.; Shabahang, Reza; McCutcheon, Lynn E.; Aruguete, Mara S.; Wolfe, Wendy; and Rivardo, Mark, "Negative Judgments about Beautiful Women’s Sex Lives and Self-esteem" (2023). Faculty Publications. 5420.