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No moral qualms about transactional sex? Materialism and objectification

Changkai Chen (Nanjing University)
Cite this article:  Chen, C. (2016). No moral qualms about transactional sex? Materialism and objectification. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44, 1803-1814.
Publication date: December 2016


I explored the psychological mechanism underlying the exchanging of sex for tangible benefits such as drugs, money, and career opportunities, that is, transactional sex. I conducted an experiment with 58 undergraduate students at a university in China. I found that objectification (i.e., viewing human beings and objects as alike) moderated the effect of materialism on their attitudes toward transactional sex. When primed with materialistic images, individuals who saw a larger overlap between the attributes of human beings and objects, and those who perceived themselves as more object-like, felt more positive toward transactional sex than did those less prone to objectify the self and others. This study contributes to understanding of transactional sex, which temporarily satisfies individuals’ material needs yet may have disastrous consequences in multiple life domains. Therefore, in addition to advancing knowledge about materialism and objectification, an understanding of the psychological mechanism underlying transactional sex may potentially contribute to the well-being of those who are most likely to participate in transactional sex.

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