According to scholars from Indiana University, female anchors who are easy on the eyes make it difficult for male viewers to remember the news.
Researchers Lelia Samson and Maria Elizabeth Grabe found that, for male viewers, “emphasis on the sexual attractiveness of female news anchors distracts from memory formation for news content” because “men’s cognitive mechanisms favored visual over verbal processing.”
In the study, the researchers prepared two short newscasts that they then showed to participants. The nearly 400 participants were shown one of the two newscasts, both of which included the same 24-year-old female anchor.
Samson and Grabe wrote in the journal Communication Research, that for one newscast the anchor “was dressed in a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio” and for the other she wore “a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt.” As well, the anchor wore lipstick in the first newscast but didn’t in the second.
After viewing the short newscasts, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires, testing their ability to recall the information that the anchor had reported. The male participants were able to recall significantly more information from the newscast that featured “the unsexualized anchor.”
Interestingly enough, female participants were able to recall more information from the sexualized anchor. Although, as Miller-McCune points out, the effect was far less pronounced.