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Authors: Maria Elizabeth Grabe, Ozen Bas, Louis A. Pagano and Lelia Samson

Abstract

This paper succeeds recent experimental findings of gender variation in how news consumers process information delivered by a female news anchor. Specifically, men remembered news presented by the unsexualized version of the anchor better while women had higher memory scores for news presented by her sexualized rendition. Explanations for why men may have been distracted from processing news information delivered by a sexualized female news anchor were sufficiently explored and supported by data in this published research. Yet, more work is necessary to understand the hike in women's memory scores associated with sexualization of female anchors. Theoretical advances in the evolutionary psychology tradition offers a framework for testing female intrasexual competition as a potential explanation for women's heightened cognitive investment in what the sexualized anchor reported. In fact, derogation has been identified as a master tactic of female competitive behavior. Yet, encountering a potential rival in a professional context and in mediated form, might not ignite intrasexual competition but called for investigation, nonetheless. To this end, an instrument built on the intrasexual competition literature was employed to systematically examine open-ended participant responses collected during an experiment. Results did emerge in support of the intra-sexual competition explanation. Women participants were significantly more likely to (1) derogate a sexualized than unsexualized female anchor, and (2) did so more than men. Further examination of the gist of these swipes brought further confirmation of the female competitive edge and added nuance to understanding derogation.

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