TV networks try to boost ratings by hiring comely female anchors and dressing them and shooting them in ways to accentuate their visual assets, but a study finds it actually reduces the amount of information recalled by male viewers. The “sexier” the female anchors, the more attention men pay, but the less they remember of what the news was about.
Two researchers had their subjects watch newscasts that were the same except for one variable. In the first version, they wrote the anchor, “was dressed in a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio… She also wore bright red lipstick and a necklace.” In the other, the woman wore “a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt,” and did not wear a necklace or lipstick.
Based on their answers to 10 multiple choice questions about the content of the five stories in the newscast, men remembered “significantly more information watching the unsexualized anchor deliver news than her sexualized version.” The reverse was true for women, but the effect was far lower. (The study should probably be repeated with “hot” male anchors.)
Good news for Fox News ratings, bad news for their viewer’s intelligence.
Sexy News Anchors Distract Male Viewers [Miller-McCune]
Sexual Cues Emanating From the Anchorette Chair: Implications for Perceived Professionalism, Fitness for Beat, and Memory for News [Communications Research]