What do girls learn from dolls? Sexualized stimuli and girls' body esteem and academic performance Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rr172259s

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  • Although a significant amount of research has investigated the effect of sexualization on women's body esteem and cognitive performance, few researchers have examined the effect of sexualization on girls. Additionally, research that has been conducted regarding girls' experiences of sexualization has primarily focused on media influences. The effect of dolls as a vector of sexualization for girls is understudied, and study of dolls in general has been largely focused around Barbie. The present study investigated the way in which different types of dolls influence girls' body esteem and academic performance and was designed to specifically determine the influence of sexualization. The study manipulated exposure to one of three dolls that were physically similar but represented different levels of sexualization: no sexualization (Corolle Camille), moderate sexualization (Barbie Fashionista), and high sexualization (Bratz Cloe). Twenty girls (ages 5-8) engaged in a 10-minute free play session with one of the three dolls and completed measures of appearance satisfaction, desire for thinness, body surveillance. Additionally, the girls completed age-appropriate math and verbal assessments. Contrary to our hypotheses, sexualization level of the doll did not influence body esteem or academic performance. These results do not support objectification theory (Fredrickson et al., 1998), as girls in our study were unaffected by exposure to sexualized stimuli. However, regardless of doll condition, girls performed better on the verbal task than the math task. These results could be indicative of a stereotype threat cue associated with doll play.
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