Brains vs. body

by Sofia

Just read this article in Wired about how we perceive people’s agency differently when we see more of their skin. It’s weird. I’m having trouble taking it seriously because it has flaws in the design of the experiment that could easily undermine the conclusions drawn. For instance, the researchers conflate culturally learned associations with nakedness with human psychological responses; i.e., if we see someone in a bikini we are responding to the fact that they might be at a beach party or in a rap video (the specific set of places where we are used to seeing naked bodies), and not just the fact that we see their skin. In other words, in North American society nakedness is not culturally neutral or free of associations and meanings, and the study does not acknowledge that. But it’s an interesting idea to think about, and could be explored further and more carefully.