Sexualization of female characters in video games leads to sexual harassment, a new study claims. Researchers conducted a study to determine if in-game sexualization of women leads to sexual harassment in real life.
The new study conducted by Jonathan Burnay (University of Liege), Brad J Bushman (Ohio State University), and Frank Laroi (University of Bergen) had 211 participants.
Participants divided into two groups and gamers were asked to play Ultra Street Fighter 4. Group 1 played the game with sexualized female characters while group 2 played with non-sexualized female characters by choosing less provocative costumes.
After playing the game participants were given the opportunity to send sexist jokes to male or female partners. The study called “Effects of sexualized video games on online sexual harassment” found that those who played Ultra Street Fighter 4 with sexualized female characters are more likely to harass online compared to the other group.
These findings indicate that the sexualization of female characters in a video game can be a sufficient condition to provoke online sexual harassment toward women.
The most surprising part of the study is that more sexist texts were sent to men. Furthermore, researchers found that female gamers send “significantly more sexist” texts to male participants. This two aspects of the study surprised even the researchers who were expecting men to be more sexist.
Researchers now wish to study the effects of in-game violence on their results. According to the researcher, it is likely that in-game violence may have impacted the results.
Future studies might address this limitation by explicitly distinguishing between sexualized content and violent content.
It is unclear how exactly the sexualization of characters is linked with violence in the game. And how it could impact the final results. We will have to wait and see what researchers come up with.
Speaking of violence, there are many studies done on this subject of violence in-game and real life. The results are inconclusive since the results differ in each study. Some studies show there is a link between the two while other gamer studies claim in-game violence has no effect on real-life actions.