Throw a Hermes Bag in a Sex Ad -- And Sex Sells, To Women

There are some ads that make me uncomfortable, like the one that was on last year about men and women (and sometimes, women and women) who used a certain lubricant while rockets exploded in the air. But a new study is saying that if the ad included a Hermes handbag at the foot of the bed, it would be a different story.

Turns out women are made uneasy by sex ads on TV or in print -- unless they're for a top-end item. (Recently I learned that the bag goes for the price of my mortgage.)

 Anyway, medicalnewsdaily.com reports that "if women connect sexual images with high-value consumer goods, they respond more positively to it."

Sounds kind of sexist to me but "sexual economics theory holds the key," writer Belinda Weber quotes Kathleen Vohs from the University's Carlson School of Management. She explains, "Women generally show spontaneous negative attitudes toward sexual images. Sexual economics theory offers a reason why: The use of sexual imagery is inimical to women's vested interest in sex being portrayed as infrequent, special, and rare."

Say what? In other words, women's reactions to sexual images reveal "deep-seated preferences about how sex should be used and understood," according to medicalnewstoday.com.

In one of the experiments, scientists showed women ads with expensive and also cheaper watches in them, one against a dramatic mountain backdrop and the other, with sexually explicit images.  Guess which watch was favored most?

"The researchers noted that women rated an advert with sexual imagery and a cheap watch more negatively when compared with the same watch featuring explicit imagery and a hefty price tag," medicalnewstoday.com reports.

The women expressed negative emotions, ranging from feeling disgusted or upset, to being unpleasantly surprised or even angry about a cheap watch being associated with sex, the Web site notes.

"We were able to get these effects even when participants weren't actually in a purchasing scenario. Just a quick exposure to an ad was enough for theories of sexual economics to kick in," writer Belinda Weber quotes Vohs.

Vohs goes on to say that this all happens at a "deep, intuitive level."  So I guess our partners can't blame us.  We don't even know we're doing it.  

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