News flash: naked men and naked women are viewed as being more vulnerable than when clothed

Statue of David
Statue of David

Ladies? Web Watch has a question for you:

When you see a semi-clothed or naked man, do they seem competent to you?

Probably not, as it goes back to the old Jerry Seinfeld comment of, “naked crouching never looks good.”

Don’t feel bad about your perception of other people’s nakedness — you’re not alone.

A recent study by University of Maryland psychologist Kurt Gray looked at PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS OF NAKED PEOPLE, and concluded that the old adage of “clothing makes the man” has a solid basis in fact.

The study looked at two different aspects of human behavior:  “agency”, the ability to be a planner and in control; vs “experience”, the ability to feel.

The study had subjects analyze photos of people in various states of undress and were asked their opinions on different subjects, such as whether you would hire that person for a professional job, or how you would react if you saw them on an online dating site. 

What the study concluded was the same whether the photo was of a naked man or a naked woman:  people who are wearing fewer clothes are considered less competent than those who were fully clothed.  On the other hand, naked people were considered more sensitive and emotional.

Other conclusions were that naked people had less moral responsibility, but also were more deserving of protection.

Maybe that explains why the “damsel in distress” in some horror movies is always missing her shirt, yet those women that survive and kill the monster are never seen naked in these films.