Cosmo girls really do have more fun! How popular magazine gives women a more positive attitude to sex
The study, from the University of Michigan, found that Cosmopolitan readers were more
likely to be sexually assertive with their own pleasure in mind
17:05 GMT, 6 September 2012
A new study has shown how reading magazines such as Cosmopolitan magazine gives its female readers a more positive attitude to premarital sex.
Research from the University of Michigan, published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, evaluated 160 participants' reactions after reading women's magazines.
The results revealed that, in the short term, a woman who reads 'common sexual scripts' from Cosmopolitan is more likely to describe premarital sex as a 'recreational' activity, rather than a 'risky' one.
Cosmo girl: A reader is more likely to view premarital sex from a positive perspective after reading 'common sexual scripts' in women's magazines
They were also more
likely to endorse the idea of being sexually assertive with their own pleasure, rather than their partner's, in mind.
The study, which saw a control group read 'sexually neutral' content from Entertainment Weekly, also found that Cosmopolitan and its ilk seemed to empower its female fans.
Regular readers of the title were less
likely to endorse a submissive sexual role – however those less familiar with Cosmopolitan's sexual content were more likely to embrace the approach.
Study authors Janna L Kim and L Monique Ward explained: 'Perhaps for frequent readers… messages about female passivity in the articles laden with sexual content… were eclipsed by the high concentration of scripts that promoted an overtly agentic female sexual role.
'Infrequent readers, reading the same articles, may have latched on to more traditional and familiar scripts about the importance of women's appearance.'
Sexual content: Study participants were given Cosmopolitan articles such as 'How to Make Fast Sex Fab' and '10 Sizzling Secrets of Women Who Love Sex'
Study participants given pages from Cosmopolitan read articles such as 'How to Make Fast Sex Fab', which included details on 'hot-and-heavy quickies' and '10 Sizzling Secrets of Women Who Love Sex'.
Participants were all female and
straight, with the exception of a small number of bisexuals. Sixty per cent
were sexually experienced, and this was a factor taken into account by
the study authors when evaluating results.
The authors explained that they chose Cosmopolitan magazine in particular for several reasons.
'Since it was transformed in the late 1960s under the editorship of
Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan has maintained a reputation for being highly
sexually explicit,' they wrote.
They added that, in addition to its popularity among young women in the U.S., the title has been 'the subject of several recent and past content analyses, and thus we had
a better sense of its content compared to that of other adult-oriented