Friday, May 29, 2009

Scientific Evidence for Modesty in Clothing

A study at Princeton* found that when men see pictures of women wearing bikinis, the part of their brain associated with using tools activates, and the part associated with assessing a person's motivations deactivates. The conclusion is that men see scantily-clad women as objects. This is a bit of evidence that suggests what the Lord's servants have been saying all along: that modesty is important if a person wishes to be seen as a person and not as an object.

Being a bit of a scientist, myself, I would like to see a few more studies before drawing any meaningful physiological conclusions:
  1. Men's reaction in various American cultures to sleeveless shirts and/or short skirts.
  2. Men's reaction to pictures of women they have a romantic relationship with, fully clothed and less clothed.
  3. Women's reaction to similar and analogous images.

It does indicate that the argument that men should simply deal with women dressing how they want to dress might have a few holes in it.

No pun intended.

*National Geographic


  1. I saw that a while back--interesting, but I agree with you there needs to be more. My hunch is that it also may have something to do with the culture and the surroundings. Example, if I saw an attractive woman in a bikini at a library or grocery store, my brain would react differently than if it was at a beach... so modesty to me also includes to situation/context.

  2. How curious it is that we latch onto the evidence that supports our bias and prejudice.

  3. I don't think it's curious at all, Anonymous. It actually makes a lot of sense. In social psychological research there is something called the "confirmation bias" which basically means that we seek out evidence or info that supports our view. I think that it even happens on a subconscious level.

    No one is free from bias, but can all be aware of how our own biases and prejudices influence our views. Another key is to not ignore "evidence" that doesn't support our views. In the case of the study in the article, If you have any research available I am more than interested.

  4. I also think that the post states pretty clearly that there is no "latching onto evidence" being done here, rather it says that more more studies are needed, etc. ect. To me it seems like you had your conclusions and biases already in place when you wrote your comment. What do you think? (sincerely).

  5. Adam—
    Yes, one big flaw to the common man's approach to science is the tendency to take one study and make definitive conclusions. No one study has the power to say "this is the way it is", at best it can only indicate that there is a possible correlation, and is something that ought to be further studied. It is too bad that more people are not educated in the basics of the practice of science while being sloppily educated in its theories.

    It is also commonly mis-believed that science is bias-free. As a process run by people, it is impossible for anything to be free of bias. That is why it is vitally important to examine the sources of the funding of studies, as well as wait for further scientific corroboration. It is also important for a scientist to do one's best to separate bias from conduction of experiments and to acknowledge that such efforts are nearly always imperfect in execution.


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