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Literature Review


1. Lafky, Sue; Duffy, Margaret; Steinmaus, Mary and Berkowitz, Dan. Looking Through Gendered Lenses: Female Stereotyping in Advertisements and Gender Role Expectations. Journalism Mass Communication Quarterly 96. 73, 2, 379-388.


This study applied the cognitive heuristics theory to the study of gender role stereotyping. Seventy-five high school students viewed magazine advertisements with stereotypical images of women, while fifty others viewed non-stereotypical images. Both groups then responded to statements concerning a woman in a "neutral" photograph. Differences in gender role expectations were found for six of the twelve questionnaire statements, although differences were not consistently related to either gender or experimental treatment. While the effects documented in this experiment were not dramatic, the results provided further evidence that even brief exposure to stereotypical advertisements play a role in reinforcing stereotypes about gender roles. What Sandra Bem has described as the "lenses of gender", lead to differences in ways males and females cognitively process visual advertising images.(Valene Gresham)



2. Uray, Nimet. An Analysis of the Portrayal of Gender Roles in Advetisements. January, 2003. retrieved April 17th, 2006.


In this article, Uray describes how manufacturers use gender stereotypes to sell their products. According to the article, "advertising stages a powerful social drama that transforms symbols and ideas and bonds together images of individuals and products."(Leiss, Kline, & Jally, 1990) She describes how such products are manufactured to create a gender based role and how it is thematically related to the individual. Advertisements are used to advocate the idea that gender roles are normal and are neccessary in society. According to Uray, "Advertising is believed to reinforce the notion that gender roles are "proper," "best," or "natural" by reflecting certain narrowly defined roles." She counter argues that advertisements not only categorize women and men, but they also create stereotypes of certain groups that are not only untrue, but are in fact degrading and offensive. (Amanda Sawyer)


3.Matlin, Margaret W. "Bimbos and Rambos: The Cognitive Basis of Gender Stereotypes." March, 2004. Retreived April 16th, 2006.


Matlin analyzes how the media contributes to gender stereotypes. Matlin points out that if you glance through magazine advertisements, you'll notice that women are much more likely than men to serve a decorative function. Women recline in seductive clothing, caress liquor bottles, or drape themselves coyly on the nearest male. They bend their bodies at a ludicrous angle, or they look as helpless as 6-year-olds. They also may be painfully thin. In contrast, men stand up, they look competent, and they look purposeful (Jones, 1991). In magazine advertisements, men are rarely portrayed doing housework. Instead, men are more likely than women to be shown working outside the home. The world of paid employment is not emphasized for women. For example, an analysis of the articles in Seventeen magazine demonstrated that only 7% of the contents concerned career planning, independence, and other self-development topics for females. In contrast, 46% of the contents concerned appearance (Peirce, 1990). In the magazine advertisements, men are rarely portrayed doing housework. Basically, the media world often represents men and women living in two different spheres. (Maggie Jones)


4. Shields, Vickie R.(2003). Measuring up: How advertising affects self-image. NWSA Journal, 15, 199-215.

In the study conducted by Shields, she actively attacks the theory that women are more affected by self-image after viewing advertisements than men are. To test the theory, Shields surveyed both men and women for the study. Unsurprisingly, the women were able to identify with the idea of being viewed as objects, as opposed to subjects in advertisements. Shields also noted that the impact of adverstisements had an even more striking affect on young girls, who often look to the ads when they lack self-confidence and are in search of how they should act or look as a young adult. This could also hold a negative effect on a young girl's overall body image, which could lead to eating disorders and other social issues that young adult's experience. Shield's also offered different alternatives that young adults could indulge in besides looking to magazines or television to gain a sense of self. One of the alternatives was to surround oneself around people that they feel most comfortable with, such as family and friends. This way, the young adult feels less pressure to engage in activity that they are not comfortable with. Shields also made it a point to discuss how certain trends developed over the years, and how young adults gravitated towards those changes. In all, Shields' study proved to be very insightful and helpful when it came to objectively discussing how prints ads can have an effect on the way young adults view gender roles. (Candice Whitfield)


5. Carpenter, C. & Edison, A. (2005) Taking it all off again: The portrayal of women in advertising over the past forty years. International Communication Association, 1-25.

This study looked at magazine advertisements from six publications in 2004, which were then analyzed and compared to an exact study done by Soley and Kurzbard in 1986 that assessed the use of sexual imagery in advertising. The researchers felt that it is important to examine how the portrayal of women in advertising has changed over the past decades. It was hypothesized that the headlines utilizing verbal sexual references would have increased over the past 40 years and that there would be an increase in explicit sexual contact between the male and female models over the past decades. The study included 960 full-page or larger ads featuring only discernable adult models. The results showed that females continue to be more sexually depicted in magazine advertisements than males, and an increase in suggestive model attire is due almost entirely to this depiction of women. The enormous discrepancy in the level of dress between male and female models indicates that women are portrayed much more often as sexual objects than men. In addition, female models were more likely to be portrayed in decorative roles than the men were and less likely to be featured in non-stereotypical or equal roles. The results did also show that there was no significant increase in sexual contact nor change in headline innuendos. (Erin Lopez)


6. Putrevu, S. (2004, September). Communicating With The Sexes: Male and Female Responses to Print Advertisements. Journal of Advertising, 33(3), 51-63.

This study focuses specifically on the differences in which men and women perceive and respond to print advertisements. The researcher concedes that biologically it has been established sexual hormones are responsible for differences in perceptual motor skills between men and women. However, he carries on with the study, presuming that in spite of this minor inherent trait, the men and women will process ads cognitively different. His study consisted of a group of 144 undergraduate students, split down the middle with regards to sex. Each respondent was given a set of print ads and they are meant to rate them and ad comments. Independent judges reviewed and ranked the comments to maintain neutrality. After compiling the data, Putrevu discovered that women have a higher understanding for complex messages in advertisements, demonstrating high capabilities in deciphering and uncovering messages before coming to a conclusion. Conversely, men were shown to do just the opposite, focusing on one or a part of the message, and using that the rate value of the entire message. It was also demonstrated in cases that men would assess an ad by looking at the overall message exhibited, while overlooking smaller details. Putrevu also showed that different appeals featured in ads affected men and women differently, as women were drawn to the ads featuring "harmonious relationships", while men preferred ads highlighting comparative appeals. The researcher determined that the two sexes prefer advertisements that speak to their perceived gender roles. (Marcel Daniels)

Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 7:32 pm on Apr 28, 2006

PLEASE go through your references under the lit review you wrote for this project to make sure it is cited in APA format! It is very important that the citation is consistent throughout the project. If you need help citing your reference, please look it up. Thanks.

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