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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sexual Priming, Gender Stereotyping, and Likelihood to Sexually Harass: Examining the Cognitive Effects of Playing a Sexually-Explicit Video Game

  • Author(s): Yao, Mike Z.
  • Mahood, Chad
  • Linz, Daniel
  • et al.

The present study examines the short-term cognitive effects of playing a sexually explicit video game with female “objectification” content on male players. Seventy-four male students from a university in California, U.S. participated in a laboratory experiment. They were randomly assigned to play either a sexually-explicit game or one of two control games. Participants’ cognitive accessibility to sexual and sexually objectifying thoughts was measured in a lexical decision task. A likelihood-to-sexually-harass scale was also administered. Results show that playing a video game with the theme of female “objectification” may prime thoughts related to sex, encourage men to view women as sex objects, and lead to self-reported tendencies to behave inappropriately towards women in social situations.

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