Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson, both of Indiana University Bloomington, say their study employed a young woman with a low waist-to-hip ratio who presented a local newscast.
In one version, the woman wore a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt featuring her waist-to-hip ratio, bright red lipstick and a necklace and in the second version she wore a loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt, no lipstick or necklace.
The researchers asked some 400 study participants -- men and women -- to complete a questionnaire on what they recalled from the fake newscast.
The study, published in the journal Communication Research, found the male participants saw the sexualized version of the female news anchor as less suited for war and political reporting, but they recalled less news from the sexualized than the unsexualized version of the news.
The women participants did not vary across conditions in their assessments of the anchor's competence to report on war and political news, but they encoded more news information presented by the sexualized than unsexualized anchor, the study says.
The study findings were drawn in line with evolutionary psychology expectations of men's cognitive susceptibility to visual sex cues, the researchers say.