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Salon: Researchers find male viewers aren't paying attention to what attractive newscasters say

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Amerigo Vespucci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 11:59 AM
Original message
Salon: Researchers find male viewers aren't paying attention to what attractive newscasters say
Thursday, Jan 27, 2011 11:42 ET
Study: Hot female reporters are distracting
Researchers find that male viewers aren't paying attention to what attractive newscasters say. Sexism wins again!
By Mary Elizabeth Williams



Lara Logan (CBS), Megyn Kelly (Fox) and Robin Meade (CNN/HLN)

http://www.salon.com/news/media_criticism/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/01/27/men_ignore_hot_news_anchors

Hey pal, eyes up here. She's trying to tell you about genocide and financial collapse. What's that you say? You missed the headlines again because the anchor babe was confusing your man brain? You're not alone a much-forwarded study published this week from Indiana University researchers Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson in Communication Research found that the sexier a female news reporter is, the less likely male viewers were to regard her as qualified for war and political reporting and to remember what she said.

Researchers had a 24-year-old woman do a short newscast twice, one time wearing a shapeless outfit, and another dolled up in red lipstick and dressed to accentuate her waist-to-hip ratio. The more alluring the waist-to-hip ratio, the less credible the reporter appeared. But while a sexed up anchor might not make a dent into her male viewers' ears, the Indiana study found women viewers reported no such disconnect. The study also didn't mention whether all its subjects identified as straight, so who knows what results the researchers might have obtained if they'd throw a little Ron Corning into the mix? Who among us has not occasionally spaced out the fact that someone was a litany of bad news because said individual was also wicked hot?

There's no non-depressing way to interpret data like this. True, maybe this is proof that the oversexualization of the evening news doesn't work if your program cares about credibility or effectively disseminating the news. One could argue that increasing trend of younger, hotter, and lower necklined ladies in the chair really is just a transparently shoddy ratings ploy, one that ultimately undermines the fifth estate. But just because, as both CNBC and TV Squad report, "Duh," that doesn't mean that networks will suddenly start reviewing female job candidates based more on their journalistic credibility and less on their shiny hair and bodacious cleavage. Think Hecklerspray and Maxim are suddenly going to be grasping for candidates for their lists of "tasty titans of the teleprompter?"

Is the fact that male viewers find attractive women less effective at communicating the news sufficient evidence that attractive women are less effective, period? Does it imply that if the news isn't delivered by a stentorian male or matronly woman, dudes won't care about that bombing in the Middle East? It comes back to the old damned if you do, damned if you don't logic. If an ambitious young reporter is encouraged to play up her attributes, she runs the real risk she won't be taken seriously. Yet if she's not conventionally attractive, she diminishes her chances of getting on the air in the first place. Your looks will get you ahead and they will hold you back. You can be sexy or competent, but just remember that sexy will short circuit competent every time.
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damntexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. Oh, I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
Who could have possibly foreseen this possibility?

;-)
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. WWGPS?
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rfranklin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
3. Mission accomplished!
The point is capturing "eyeballs" which they do. Who cares about what they're saying?
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FormerDittoHead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
4. Of course, it could be that what they're given to read isn't that informative to begin with... n/t
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
5. Horrors! Then they can't fulfill their purpose ...
and ratings will ... uh, wait ... never mind.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
7. That's interesting, but the results could mean different things.
I tried to read the actual study, but you need a subscription for it. The title and abstract say that men not only considered the less vampy newscasters to be more credible, but also remembered more of what they said, compared to the same newscasters dressed in tighter clothing. It also says that women did not respond that way.

A couple of things it doesn't say: It doesn't say women don't respond the same way to male reporters, since that wasn't tested, and it doesn't (as far as I could tell) prove that men were actually distracted by the more attractive package, so much as they didn't pay as much attention to the story when the reader was "dolled up."

So there are a lot of possible conclusions. Humans could be evolutionarily (that's from the title of the abstract) designed to become sidetracked by someone they are sexually attracted to--this is where testing women, and differentiating between gay and straight men, would give more meaning to the results. Or only men could be designed that way. Or it could mean that culturally men have been conditioned to believe that attractive women are less competent than less attractive women. Or it could be that men have come to expect a news service to either try to seduce or to try to inform them, and thus they paid less attention to the woman they believed in the former category. Most people when hearing a news story on a topic they are only loosely familiar with can't judge the story on content, so they judge they person reading the story, so if the man already believes the reader to be incompetent, he might not pay as much attention.

Or of course it could show that men in general are sexist pigs with only one thought on their minds.

I'd love to see further studies test women's reactions to men's appearance, and to see the information divided up based on age, educational background, and whether the subject had a good or weak understanding of the topic being read. For instance, if I'm listening to someone read a story on a topic I know a lot about, I can judge the story, but if it's about something I know nothing about, I judge the source. The second case is where cultural biases come into play, the former is where physiology is important. For instance, if someone knowledgable about the economy reacts differently to different appearances to a story on the economy, it would argue that looks do affect attention. If the expert wasn't affected by appearance, but was on stories he knew less about, then it would imply that conditioning has trained him to take the more vampy reader less seriously.

It's really impossible to even judge how reliable the study is without more detail. People are too likely to be uncritical of experiments that reaffirm what they already believe, but of course those are the studies people should be most critical of, since they are the most likely to be tainted with bias.

Sorry so long. I'm really hot, too, so none of you are paying attention, anyway. :)
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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. The study (rather, one like it) was done it Britain and basically found the same thing
And that was several years ago.

Women showed minimal to no difference in what they remembered from attractive female vs attractive male reporters.

Men remembered what the male news caster had to say, but not much of what female had to say.

I do agree that you could parse this down to age/gender/education and so on, but PJ ORourke called it when he talked about the reason the war protests weren't catching on in the Bush reign: No hot chicks.

And this is the image he used to illustrate that point:



Raging grannies just won't cut it.

Obama girl is a different story.

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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
8. They needed a study for this????
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Dokkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
9. nonsense
I am horny as hell 99% of the time, but I can say that I pay more attention when an attractive newscaster is presenting the news as opposed to other newscasters. Some people can drool and pay attention at the same time.
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yellowcanine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
10. I don't pay attention to what Brit Hume says. Does this mean I am attracted to him?
Edited on Thu Jan-27-11 02:30 PM by yellowcanine
Egads!:banghead:
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
11. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
12. It might help if they put their clothes on.
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
13. The point of news is to sell soap.
If Lara Logan sells more of it, she's doing her job.

"Well I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here,
I just need to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and let me whisper in your ear
give us dirty laundry"
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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 03:19 PM
Response to Original message
14. sarah palin effect n/t
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
16. This brings to mind the old
saying: I'd rather be pretty than smart. Men see better than they think.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 03:48 PM
Response to Original message
17. it might help if they stopped smiling when they talk about war, doom, and gloom.
the problem is that the *commercial* news has long divorced itself of any civic responsibility, and is not, as any commercial television program all about getting you to watch THE COMMERCIALS.

and so they smile to leave you with an appealing impression, so you'll want to suffer through the commercials to get another look at that great smile. even while they're talking about war or deficits or service cuts or layoffs or crimes or terrorism or WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW MIGHT KILL YOU -- more after this break!

they're advertising themselves. the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the presentation, are NOT put together to teach you about the news or to reinforce the story. the substance of the story is a necessary evil at best, all the rest of it is designed to hook you, grab your eyeballs any way they can, and get you to keep watching.

but this is old new:

"the bubble-headed bleach blonde comes on at five/
she can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye"
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chowhound Donating Member (109 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 05:48 PM
Response to Original message
18. well maybe the should read the news nude
maybe that will help
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-27-11 06:12 PM
Response to Original message
19. If FOX could get away with it they would have all their female hotties perform topless!
Edited on Thu Jan-27-11 06:15 PM by JohnWxy
...although, that would be too obvious. So they stick with flashing (or the promise thereof)....



http://www.ihatethemedia.com/fox-news-anchor-babes-short-skirts-video-photo">Fox News ratings are rising, so are its anchors skirts
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-11 05:11 AM
Response to Original message
20. life is too short to watch ugly & stupid male newscasters.
I'm a straight woman.

That means I will watch Keith (oops he's gone), Lawrence O'Donnell and Eliot Spitzer.

Not much selection there.

Tweety and Ed Schultz I am sure are nice people, but they don't ring my chimes.


I think it's funny and sad that Kathleen Parker isn't smart enough to argue with Spitzer.

But then reality has a liberal bias, as Stephen Colbert said.

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