Female characters from adult-only video games elicit a sexually objectifying gaze in both men and women
Sex Roles: a journal of research
School of Arts and Humanities
Two decades of research have shown that women are portrayed sexually in certain types of visual media, including video games, so that women are at greater risk than men of being sexually objectified. We aimed to determine whether greater sexually objectifying gaze occurs during exposure to female characters from games rated for adults only, in comparison to all-ages games and male characters. We also aimed to determine whether men, compared to women, show a greater sexually objectifying gaze when viewing characters from popular video games. Furthermore, we aimed to determine if valence ratings of characters (i.e., pleasantness) and rape myth acceptance attitudes correlated with gaze behavior. We exposed 116 Australian participants to still images of female and male characters from both adult-only and all-ages video games and measured their eye movements. The results showed that female, but not male, characters from adult-only, but not all-ages, games elicited sexually objectifying gaze in both men and women. Rape myth acceptance attitudes did not correlate with gaze behavior; however, valence ratings were significantly positively correlated with objectifying gaze behavior for men but not for women. Thus, objectifying gaze behavior is more likely to be a marker for affective preferences in men than in women. Our results suggest that games that elicit sexually objectifying gaze could increase the risk that consumers will engage in body-biased attentional processing when making evaluations of women.