Wearing less revealing and more comfortable clothing makes other people feel more empathy towards you, new research finds.
However, when women in the study wore a short dress, heels and heavy make-up, it reduced how much empathy others felt towards them.
The same was true whether it was a man or woman observing the other woman.
When wearing comfortable trousers, a jersey, ballet flats and light make-up, others felt more empathy towards them.
The results are likely because revealing more skin tends to make people see us more as a sexual object, rather than a person.
Dr Giorgia Silani, who led the study, said:
“The results suggests that the underlying mechanism may be a reduced activation of the brain’s empathy network.”
Sexual objectification also robs a person of their apparent ability to plan their actions and have a moral sense in the eye of the beholder.
The results come from a study in which 41 people (half women) watched a video designed to test empathic reactions.
Brain scans measured how they reacted to the sexualised and non-sexualised target.
Dr Silani concluded:
“This reduction in empathic feelings towards sexually objectified women was accompanied by reduced activity in empathy related brain areas.
This suggests that observers experienced a reduced capacity to share the sexualized women’s emotions”
→ Explore PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:
The study was published in the journal Cortex (Cogoni et al., 2018).