Do Alcohol Advertisements Impact College Students’ Willingness to Coerce Others for Sex?

Dr. Hust

A new study led by researchers at Washington State University found that alcohol advertising featuring objectified women encouraged not just some male but also female college students to manipulate others for sex. The study found that both young men and women who expressed strong beliefs in gender stereotypes were more likely to sexually coerce. This connection was particularly strong with young men viewing alcohol ads featuring highly objectified female models.

The study tested different alcohol ads on about 1,200 college students. One set of participants saw real advertisements featuring highly objectified women such as models wearing little or no clothing. Another set viewed ads that were changed to lessen the objectification, such as adding a dress to a model who appeared in the original ad in a bikini. The participants answered questions about their perceptions of the ads, their beliefs in gender stereotypes, sex-related alcohol expectancies. and their own sexual coercion intentions with or without alcohol.

For college men’s intentions to sexually coerce using alcohol, there were significant interaction effects between exposure to highly objectified advertisements and gender stereotypes. For women’s intentions to sexually coerce using alcohol, the interaction between wishful identification with the models in the advertisements and perceived realism was significant.

“Alcohol advertisements have effects beyond encouraging people to consume alcohol,” said lead author Stacey Hust, a professor in the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. “If we start prevention programs that debunk gender stereotypes when kids are young, then hopefully over time we can impact these negative behaviors.”

The full study, “Perceived Realism and Wishful Identification: College Students’ Perceptions of Alcohol Ads and Their Intentions to Sexually Coerce With or Without Using Alcohol,” was published on the website of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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