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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 4 1997). Because of this concentration on a single age range, generalizations drawn about gender stereotypes in television advertisements have been derived nearly exclusively from characterizations of young adult women. Much less is known about the extent to which representations of females and males of different ages reproduce the same stereotypes. To more fully address this issue, the present study adds an extra layer of inquiry to traditional examinations of gender stereotyping in commercials by investigating the role that age plays in the characterization of females and males . Despite the plethora of knowledge we have about persistent sex- role stereotyping on television ads, we know little about the intersection of gender and age in terms of these enduring concepts. For example, are roles and behaviors of males and females stereotypic across the board, or just for particular age groups? Are gender disparities evident for the young but not the elderly, or vice versa? Do stereotypes disappear for certain age groups, or are some groups consistently more gender stereotypical than others? After briefly reviewing relevant literature, the present study highlights the unique ways that gender representations in television advertisements vary by age. Because these images have the potential to influence social learning (Bandura, 1994, 2001), continuing to document these representations is consequential. To this end, this investigation updates past gender stereotyping analyses to provide current evidence regarding the state of affairs in gender representation. Additionally, this study identifies disparate patterns in character portrayals based on gender and age in order to shed light on how gender stereotypes persist or decline throughout the life span. Recent Studies Women in Television Commercials Content analytic investigations of portrayals of females in television commercials have repeatedly demonstrated that women are underrepresented compared to census statistics, often with a narrow set of roles dominating (Furnham & Mak, 1999 for review). Scholars examining these images have commonly focused on the frequency of characters’ portrayal, the products with which characters are associated, characters’ appearance, behaviors, and roles, and the settings in which they are depicted.

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials
4
1997). Because of this concentration on a single age range, generalizations drawn about gender stereotypes
in television advertisements have been derived nearly exclusively from characterizations of young adult
women. Much less is known about the extent to which representations of females and males of different
ages reproduce the same stereotypes.
To more fully address this issue, the present study adds an extra layer of inquiry to traditional
examinations of gender stereotyping in commercials by investigating the role that age plays in the
characterization of females and males
.
Despite the plethora of knowledge we have about persistent sex-
role stereotyping on television ads, we know little about the intersection of gender and age in terms of
these enduring concepts. For example, are roles and behaviors of males and females stereotypic across
the board, or just for particular age groups? Are gender disparities evident for the young but not the
elderly, or vice versa? Do stereotypes disappear for certain age groups, or are some groups consistently
more gender stereotypical than others?
After briefly reviewing relevant literature, the present study highlights the unique ways that
gender representations in television advertisements vary by age. Because these images have the potential
to influence social learning (Bandura, 1994, 2001), continuing to document these representations is
consequential. To this end, this investigation updates past gender stereotyping analyses to provide current
evidence regarding the state of affairs in gender representation. Additionally, this study identifies
disparate patterns in character portrayals based on gender and age in order to shed light on how gender
stereotypes persist or decline throughout the life span.
Recent Studies Women in Television Commercials
Content analytic investigations of portrayals of females in television commercials have repeatedly
demonstrated that women are underrepresented compared to census statistics, often with a narrow set of
roles dominating
(Furnham & Mak, 1999 for review). Scholars examining these images have commonly
focused on the frequency of characters’ portrayal, the products with which characters are associated,
characters’ appearance, behaviors, and roles, and the settings in which they are depicted.


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