Does the simple act of removing a sweater make you more likely to cry or less able to exert self-control? Of course not! But people think it does.A new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that when men and women show more skin, others assume they’re more emotional, less capable and even less moral.Essentially, there are two ways to think of another person: as either an agent (someone with intelligence, ambition, self-control) or an experiencer (someone emotional, sensual). The characteristics you imagine someone has at any given moment come down to context—and a little bit of kink.In a series of six experiments, the researchers showed that when we focus on someone’s body (by judging their attractiveness or seeing them topless), we assume that the person is an experiencer, absorbing the world around them but less able to take charge of their lives. When the same person is fully clothed, we assume they are less emotional and perfectly capable of handling their you-know-what.The key here is that we see others as having a different kind of mind when we’re focused on their bodies.MORE: Real Bodies On TV Make Women Feel Worse, Study FindsThe study also found that focusing on someone’s body makes us less likely to hold them accountable for their actions and more likely to try to protect them.When participants read a paragraph describing a man’s body, they rated him significantly less blameworthy in a dine-and-dash scenario and significantly more harmed in a mugging than they did when they read about his mind.Participants were also less willing to inflict harm on men without their shirts. When the same man was pictured shirtless or clothed, participants were more willing to administer electric shocks to the fully clothed person than they were to the shirtless one. (Apparently all it takes to trigger white knight syndrome is a little flash of flesh.)So what does all this mean in real life? “The classic example is benevolent sexism,” says the study’s lead author, Kurt Gray, Ph.D., referring to sexist acts we do with good intentions. “Say a woman is wearing a teddy when her husband comes home. He may have had a bad day at work, but he would think, ‘I can’t tell you the bad news because you’re too vulnerable.’ He might say, ‘Don’t worry your little head.’”Gray points out that this bias can be positive as well. “In the bedroom, you want to see your spouse more as an experiencer, focused on sensations,” he says. Not to mention that seeing your partner as a little less moral might turn up the heat when you want to get creative in the sack.QUIZ: Are You Sexually Satisfied?Keeping these findings in mind can help you control how others see you. “When you want to be taken seriously, don’t wear revealing clothing,” says Gray. Instead, save your “meant-to-be-a-t-shirt” mini-dress or bicep-bulging tank for a hot date when you want to show your soft side.