|dc.description.abstract||Sexualized advertising invokes gender-sensitive responses. While it has been
proven to be an effective sales strategy, research indicates that it can have detrimental
effects for women's body image and self-esteem, and it can lead men to objectify and
sexualize the female body.
This phenomenological study aims to address how this discrepancy in women
and men's responses affects communication in romantic heterosexual relationships.
Five couples took part in this study. First, each partner assessed their relationship using
Welch and Rubin's (2002) Relationship Stage Descriptions; next partners watched a
sexualized advertising video with together; finally, each partner was interviewed
individually about reactions to watching the video. Through thematic analysis, this study
found that individuals experienced discomfort and hyper-awareness of their partners'
reactions to the video. This led participants to experience a short-term break in
communication with their partners, which then added more discomfort, which the author
termed "The Discomfort Cycle Effect." Joking and laughter were used to release tension
and re-connect with partners. Using Knapp's (1978) Stages of Coming Together and
Coming Apart, findings of this study indicated that participants experienced a
momentary de-escalation in their relationship due to an awareness of their differing
gender-sensitive responses to the video, which caused tension in communication.
These reactions motivated participants to re-escalate the relationship by improving the
experience through jokes and laughter, which diminished the tension. This dynamic is
termed "The Equilibrium Effect". Implications of findings are discussed as well as
opportunities for future research.||