Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 147-157

First online:

Virtual Virgins and Vamps: The Effects of Exposure to Female Characters’ Sexualized Appearance and Gaze in an Immersive Virtual Environment

  • Jesse FoxAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, Stanford University Email author 
  • , Jeremy N. BailensonAffiliated withDepartment of Communication, Stanford University

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This experiment exposed a sample of U.S. undergraduates (43 men, 40 women) to suggestively or conservatively clad virtual females who exhibited either responsive, high eye gaze or nonresponsive, low gaze in an immersive virtual environment. Outside the virtual world, men and women who encountered a highly stereotypical character—a suggestively clad, high gaze agent (“vamp”) or conservatively clad, low gaze character (“virgin”)—demonstrated more sexism and greater rape myth acceptance than participants who saw a suggestively clad nonresponsive or conservatively clad, responsive character. Results suggest that gender-stereotypical virtual females enhance negative attitudes toward women, whereas those that violate expectations and break stereotypes do not.


Sex role stereotypes Media effects Gender schema Virtual reality Video games