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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 10 norms and values by indicating what punishment one can expect (e.g., social isolation, physical or financial failure, etc.) when one fails to act appropriately (i.e., use/purchase the product). These notions, that viewers attend most to those with whom they identify (attention) and that viewers are most likely to model and learn from those characters who are rewarded or who go unpunished (motivation), are two primary functions that govern observational learning in the social cognitive model. Producers of television commercials are savvy to these factors and intentionally utilize this knowledge to encourage similar conduct (i.e., product use) among viewers (Harris, 1999). Attention and motivation, therefore, are particularly pertinent to understanding the capacity for television advertising to influence the viewing public. Given that viewers tend to identify with characters most like themselves, girls and older women are likely to seek out and learn from the rather infrequent images of girls and older women portrayed on television . Yet, we know relatively little about the quality of these images in terms of gender stereotyping, since most studies have drawn conclusions from the more frequently represented young adult and adult female characters in ads. One objective of this study was to assess the current state of gender stereotyping in commercials. Drawing from the recent literature, the following hypotheses were postulated: H1: Males will outnumber females, both as characters and as speakers for voiceovers. H2: Female characters will typically be younger than male characters and will be less evenly distributed across the age spectrum. H3: Females will be more commonly associated with aspects of home and domestic life, than will males. (product, occupational role, primary behavior, setting) H4: Females will be more commonly associated with stereotypic appearance ideals and behaviors than will males. (attractive, body type, clad, sexual gazing, self gaze). H5: Females will demonstrate less authority and activity than males (job authority, activeness) The second objective was to evaluate how the characterization of characters varied by their age. Given that few studies have examined this relationship specifically, the research question was posed:

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials 10
norms and values by indicating what punishment one can expect (e.g., social isolation, physical or
financial failure, etc.) when one fails to act appropriately (i.e., use/purchase the product).
These notions, that viewers attend most to those with whom they identify (attention) and that
viewers are most likely to model and learn from those characters who are rewarded or who go unpunished
(motivation), are two primary functions that govern observational learning in the social cognitive model.
Producers of television commercials are savvy to these factors and intentionally utilize this knowledge to
encourage similar conduct (i.e., product use) among viewers (Harris, 1999).
Attention and motivation,
therefore, are particularly pertinent to understanding the capacity for television advertising to influence
the viewing public.
Given that viewers tend to identify with characters most like themselves, girls and older women
are
likely to seek out and learn from the rather infrequent images of girls and older women portrayed on
television
.
Yet, we know relatively little about the quality of these images in terms of gender stereotyping,
since most studies have drawn conclusions from the more frequently represented young adult and adult
female characters in ads.
One objective of this study was to assess the current state of gender stereotyping in commercials.
Drawing from the recent literature, the following hypotheses were postulated:
H1: Males will outnumber females, both as characters and as speakers for voiceovers.
H2: Female characters will typically be younger than male characters and will be less evenly
distributed across the age spectrum.
H3: Females will be more commonly associated with aspects of home and domestic life, than
will males. (product, occupational role, primary behavior, setting)
H4: Females will be more commonly associated with stereotypic appearance ideals and
behaviors than will males. (attractive, body type, clad, sexual gazing, self gaze).
H5: Females will demonstrate less authority and activity than males (job authority, activeness)
The second objective was to evaluate how the characterization of characters varied by their age. Given
that few studies have examined this relationship specifically, the research question was posed:


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