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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 11 RQ1: How do characters’ appearances, behaviors, roles and the settings in which they are found vary by their age? Method A one-week sample of prime time television commercials was constructed across the 6 major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, UPN, and WB). This sample was randomly recorded over the period from Sunday, February 4, 2001 through Saturday, February 24, 2001. Prime time was defined as all programming airing between 8 p.m.-11 p.m. EST, Mondays through Saturdays and 7 p.m.-11 p.m. EST, Sundays. Only national advertisements were coded, resulting in a total of 2,880 commercials. Reliabilities The data were coded by two female and two male undergraduate students. They were trained on commercials outside the actual sample until acceptable levels of inter-coder reliability were obtained. All reported reliabilities were then re-calculated on a subset of the actual sample, using Scott’s pi (Potter & Levine-Donnerstein, 1999). The present study includes only those variables for which coders achieved reliabilities of .80 or higher. Units of Analyses and Variables Both commercial level and character level analyses were conducted. Only national ads, defined as those that promoted a product or service to a national audience, were coded. Following other researchers (Bartsch, et al., 2000; Lovdal, 1989), local commercials, political advertisements, trailers for television shows, movies and sports events were not coded. Repeat commercials (those that were broadcast more than once within the sample) were each coded, since the study aimed to document frequency of gender stereotypes, rather than individual advertisements (Craig, 1992; Verna, 1975). Character level analyses were conducted in assessing the attributes of individual characters appearing in the ads. Only the first three human characters (aged two years or older) with a speaking part were examined. Speaking parts were defined to be a singular, discernible voice (including words and/or sounds) emanating from an identifiable character. Prior screening of prime time advertising indicated that commercials did not often include more than three identifiable speaking characters. Coding the first three

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials 11
RQ1: How do characters’ appearances, behaviors, roles and the settings in which they are found
vary by their age?
Method
A one-week sample of prime time television commercials was constructed across the 6 major
broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, UPN, and WB). This sample was randomly recorded over
the period from Sunday, February 4, 2001 through Saturday, February 24, 2001. Prime time was defined
as all programming airing between 8 p.m.-11 p.m. EST, Mondays through Saturdays and 7 p.m.-11 p.m.
EST, Sundays. Only national advertisements were coded, resulting in a total of 2,880 commercials.
Reliabilities
The data were coded by two female and two male undergraduate students. They were trained on
commercials outside the actual sample until acceptable levels of inter-coder reliability were obtained. All
reported reliabilities were then re-calculated on a subset of the actual sample, using Scott’s pi (Potter &
Levine-Donnerstein, 1999). The present study includes only those variables for which coders achieved
reliabilities of .80 or higher.
Units of Analyses and Variables
Both commercial level and character level analyses were conducted. Only national ads, defined
as those that promoted a product or service to a national audience, were coded. Following other
researchers (Bartsch, et al., 2000; Lovdal, 1989), local commercials, political advertisements, trailers for
television shows, movies and sports events were not coded. Repeat commercials (those that were
broadcast more than once within the sample) were each coded, since the study aimed to document
frequency of gender stereotypes, rather than individual advertisements (Craig, 1992; Verna, 1975).
Character level analyses were conducted in assessing the attributes of individual characters
appearing in the ads. Only the first three human characters (aged two years or older) with a speaking part
were examined. Speaking parts were defined to be a singular, discernible voice (including words and/or
sounds) emanating from an identifiable character. Prior screening of prime time advertising indicated that
commercials did not often include more than three identifiable speaking characters. Coding the first three


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