Consumer responses to sexual advertising : The intersection of modernization, evolution, and international marketing

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-782
Journal / PublicationJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number6
Online published17 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


Drawing on insights from evolutionary psychology and sociology, this research seeks to explain the gender differences and within-sex variations in consumer responses to nudity in advertisements. Specifically, we argue that the abundant resources that come with modernization emancipate women from the dependency on a long-term relationship with a male partner for child bearing and rearing. Therefore, women in modern societies are more likely to use fast reproductive strategies (e.g., short-term mating) to enhance the chances of getting good genes from their mates for their offspring. Their physiological arousals activated by and attitudes toward male or female nudity in ads will change accordingly. In contrast, men's responses to nudity in ads are less affected by modernization. We conducted an experiment in six Chinese cities and obtained supportive evidence to illustrate these differences. There was also evidence indicating that the socialization of high socio-economic status may offset the force of evolution. This study highlights the usefulness of an interdisciplinary approach in answering important questions in international business. The findings are discussed with a focus on the integration of strategic pluralism theory, life history theory, parental investment theory, and socialization theory. © 2014 Academy of International Business.

Research Area(s)

  • advertising, China, cross-cultural experiments, evolutionary psychology, modernization, strategic pluralism theory

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