Sexy News Anchors Distract Male Viewers

Sit down … wait for it … this news is going to be mind-blowing: sexy female news anchors distract male viewers and render them unable to process the content of the news, according to a study published in the journal Communication Research by two Indiana University scholars.

Holy moly, Fox News might be on to something! The researchers created two separate news broadcasts, both starring a 24-year-old news anchor, and asked close to 400 men and women to watch one version or the other. For the first broadcast, the anchor wore “a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio” with “bright red lipstick and a necklace.” In the second broadcast, the anchor wore “a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt” with no makeup or jewelry. On both broadcasts, the researchers wrote, the news anchor was “framed in a medium-long shot to reveal her upper body, including her upper thighs, waist and hips.”

After viewing one of the broadcasts, which were about actual local news items, the subjects were asked four multiple choice questions about her physical appearance and 10 multiple choice questions about the news she had read on air. Surprise, surprise, men retained more information from the unsexualized news anchor. (But interestingly, women retained more info from the sexualized one.)

In other words, the sex appeal of female news anchors distracts male viewers to such a degree that they do not ingest the news. “Men’s cognitive mechanisms favored visual over verbal processing,” the study found, which means “emphasis on the sexual attractiveness of female news anchors distracts from memory formation for news content.” In other words, a channel surfing dude might stop if he sees Megyn Kelly’s tits hanging out, but will he actually learn anything about Egyptian youths driving an revolt against Hosni Mubarak? Probably not.

(Those who are so inclined can read an investigative paper on the “sex appeal” of journalists — bloggers not included, obviously, because we have no “sex appeal” to speak of — here.)

Unfortunately, this study did not examine the effect of Silver Fox Anderson Cooper on gay men. Next time, I guess.