Wed, 03/07/2018

International Journal of Behavioral Development
Call for Manuscript Proposals

Special Issue on Developmental Perspectives on the Sexualization of Girls and Women

Guest Editors
Rebecca S. Bigler, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Carlo Tomasetto, University of Bologna, Italy

The goal of this special issue (6-8 articles) of the International Journal of Behavioral Development is to draw attention to, and build strong theory and knowledge around, the societal and psychological consequences of the sexualization of girls and women for child and adolescent development.  In 2007, The American Psychological Association released a report from the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls that summarized theory and empirical research. The authors noted that most of the extant research focused on adult women (rather than girls) and they proposed a set of recommended research agendas aimed at advancing the field. The Task Force was successful in generating scholarly work on sexualization. For example, The Journal of Sex Research published a set of commentaries on the Task Force report (Else-Quest & Hyde, 2009; Lerum & Dworkin, 2009; Vanwesenbeeck, 2009) and Sex Roles conducted a “Feminist Forum” that included pieces from feminist scholars regarding sexualization (Bay-Cheng, 2012; Gavey, 2012; Gill, 2012; Lamb & Peterson, 2012; Murnen & Smolak, 2012; Peterson & Lamb, 2012; Tolman, 2012). In addition, considerable empirical work emerged concerning the sexualized content of video games, music videos, movies, television, advertising, and social media (e.g., Aubrey & Frisby, 2011; Conrad, Dixon, & Zhang, 2009; Downs & Smith, 2010; Kirsch, & Murnen, 2015; Smith & Choueiti, 2011; Stermer & Burkley, 2012; Stankiewicz & Rosselli, 2008; Wallis, 2011; Ward, 2016), and an excellent edited volume on the topic was published (Zurbriggen & Roberts, 2013). Recent work has addressed the measurement of various facets of the sexualization of the self and others, and its consequences in a host of domains (e.g., cognition, academics, body image, judgements of others; self-esteem; e.g., Bernard, Legrand, & Klein, 2016; Daniels & Zurbriggen, 2016; Holland & Haslam, 2016; Puvia & Vaes, 2013; Slater & Tiggemann, 2016; Trekels & Eggermont, 2017).

Despite these impressive strides, many questions remain concerning when, why, and how the sexualization of girls and women affects child and adolescent development. Children and adolescents are a focal point of sexualization in two ways, both as the targets or focus of sexualization and as actors that adopt sexualized attitudes and behaviors in their social contexts and identities. In the issue, we hope to highlight the ways in which youth a) understand, b) experience, c) contribute to, d) resist, and e) are changed by cultural and interpersonal messages that sexualize girls and women. We are especially interested in work that addresses the developmental mechanisms by which sexualization affects youth. We also hope to advance the field's understanding of the consequences of exposure to sexualized messages across contexts (e.g., school, home) and geographic regions, and to further our knowledge of how to reduce the negative aspects of sexualization.

Papers might address such questions as:

  • Do individual differences, environmental factors, or intersectional social identities predict children's and adolescents' exposure and responses to sexualized messages?
  • How do sexualized messages affect children's self-views and behaviors over time?
  • How does exposure to sexualize messages and its consequences for children and adolescents vary across cultures and settings?
  • Are there links between sexualization and sexual abuse, sexual victimization, sexual risk-taking, and sexual behavior among children and adolescents?
  • How broad and stable are effects of exposure to sexualized messages for cognition (e.g., math performance) and behavior (e.g., peer relations)?
  • What can be done to reduce children and adolescents' exposure to and internalization of sexualized messages about girls and women?

Deadlines and Procedures

By Monday, April 23, 2018, potential contributors should submit a brief letter of intent (no more than 2 pages) that includes the following information:
(1) Tentative title, names and affiliations of anticipated authors, and contact information for corresponding author;
(2) Basic information about the proposed manuscript as follows:

a) Brief explanation (300 words) of the main research question, theoretical background, and hypotheses;
b) Description of sample and study design (e.g., sample size, ages, demographic characteristics);
c) Description of the measures of primary dependent and independent measures.
d) Description of the developmental focus either in the sense of research that measures change (ideally) or research with clear and articulated implications for developmental trajectories;
e) If possible: Brief summary of manuscript content (e.g., key findings or conclusions).

By Wednesday, May 23, 2018, authors will be informed of the outcome of the initial review by the guest editors. A subset of authors will be invited to submit full manuscripts for additional consideration.

By September 1, 2018, potential contributors will submit completed manuscripts. Submissions will be made through IJBD’s online submission portal, and manuscripts will be reviewed following the journal’s usual process. As per IJBD guidelines, reports of straight-forward, single-study experiments should be no longer than 4,500 words, all inclusive; multiple-study empirical papers should be no longer than 8,500 words, all inclusive; reviews and theoretical papers should be no longer than 10,500 words, all inclusive. For other aspects in style, please consult guidelines of IJBD:

By November 1, 2018 contributors will receive reviews of their manuscripts.  Invited revisions will be due January 15, 2019.

Inquiries regarding the Special Issue may be directed to or