A new study conducted by Kurt Gray of the University of Maryland suggests that objectification of women — and men, for that matter — is a bit more complex than we previously may have thought.
The study found that, though the showing of skin does make us regard a person in a fundamentally different way than we would a completely covered person, we do not regard a half-naked (or fully naked) person as an object. Rather, we tend to view him or her as more vulnerable, sensitive and emotional and less capable of rational thought.
“People perceive minds along two dimensions and not along one,” said Gray in a recent interview with Salon.com, “So instead of seeing them as an object versus a person, we see them as two kinds of people. An agent and an experiencer.”
Something to keep in mind when you get dressed in the morning — in the mind of the beholder, more clothes equals “doer” and less clothes equals “the one it’s getting done to.”
It’s not all bad, though. Gray goes on to explain that these lack-of-clothing-based shifts in perception may provide a necessary function, particularly in the bedroom. “If you want to make love,” Gray theorized,” you want to be thinking about their experience and not, like, ‘Oh, are we planning on submitting these mortgage payments on time?’”
In other words, thinking of our partners as irrational balls of desire and passion is kind of… hotter.