‘Sex sells’ has always been the marketers’ way of reaching men through advertisements, but according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research male consumers who were shown images of sexy women felt less connected to other people and therefore less likely to purchase any products that was advertised to benefit others or make charitable donations for a cause.

A series of studies involved men between 18 and 24 years old where these participants viewed either pictures with sexy women, other pleasing pictures of landscapes for example or did not view any pictures at all. The men who viewed the sexy pictures of women focused more on how their bodies felt like tired, excited, sleepy or bored and less on their social roles and what kind of person they are like being a team player, smart, outgoing, etc.

The men who looked at the sexy pictures felt as if they had less similarities with other people and also felt very disconnected between themselves and other people. This made them less likely to view products favourably especially when it was advertised as having benefits for other people. They also were not likely to make charitable donations or behave charitably in any way.

The one study found that when the men were shown pictures of sexy women they were less willing to give money to another student regardless of gender and were also less likely to show support for a wildlife protection charity by purchasing and wearing a t-shirt that promoted such a cause.

“Important implications can be drawn from our findings. For example, charities that appeal for donations and brands selling environmentally friendly products might want to reconsider placing advertisements in media that are rich in visual sexual cues (such as popular men’s magazines or late-night TV shows) since these strategies may backfire,” the study authors conclude.