Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Murnen, Sarah


Prior research has examined the challenges that women face in obtaining and successfully filling leadership roles. For instance, increasing sexualization of women across various forms of media (Krassas, Blauwkamp, & Wesselink, 2003) serves to reduce women’s power by causing them to self-objectify, which results in higher levels of body shame and lower confidence, among other consequences (e.g., APA, 2007). In light of these findings, the present study investigated the effect of sexualized clothing on women’s appearance anxiety, state anxiety, assertiveness, and performance. Participants were asked to memorize and present specific information to a video recorder while wearing a sexualizing outfit, a professional outfit, or “everyday” clothing, and their presentations were coded for tentative language, nonverbal assertiveness, and performance quality. Their pre-test and post-test levels of appearance anxiety and state anxiety were assessed using self-report measures, and analysis of covariance revealed that although clothing type did not significantly affect assertiveness or performance, women in the sexy condition did report significantly higher levels of appearance anxiety and state anxiety after their presentations than women in the other conditions after controlling for pre-test level of appearance and state anxiety, respectively. These findings imply a need to further evaluate ways in which sexualized clothing is potentially distracting and distressing.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 28-32)

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