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Representations of Gender and Age in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender & Age in Commercials 8 frequently as men, they were significantly more likely to be depicted as clerical workers, and less likely to be portrayed as business professionals. Scholars have also assessed how characters act in the positions they hold. For example, Coltrane and Adams (1997) found that women were less likely than men to be order-givers or to exercise authority. Furnham & Farragher (2000) found that both males and females were more likely to be depicted as autonomous than in any other role, although females were more likely to be shown in familial roles than males. And finally, in terms of level of activity, viewed frequently as a sign of strength and power, Coltrane and Adams (1997) indicated that men were twice as physically active as women. Settings. The most common setting for females in commercials is the domestic residence (Furnham & Bitar, 1993; Furnham & Farragher, 2000; Mazzella, Durkin, Cerini & Buralli, 1992). Bretl & Cantor (1988) found that males were more likely than females to be seen outside the home; this pattern holds true for both White and African-American characters (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). In their comparison of sex-role stereotype studies from five continents over the past twenty-five years, Furnham and Mak (1999) concluded that in general, females were more often portrayed at home, whereas males are most frequently depicted in the outdoors. This pattern persisted even in children’s television. Analyses of children’s commercials aired on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons revealed significantly fewer boys-only commercials to be in a home setting compared to girls-only commercials (Larson, 2001; Smith, 1994). Kaufman (1999) found that although both men and women without children were more likely to be shown outside rather than inside their homes, men shown with children but no spouse were twice as likely to appear outside the home than women with children and no spouse. Social Cognitive Theory Altogether, the landscape of commercial images painted by recent content analytic studies suggests that males and females are quite differently depicted. Females are underrepresented compared to their male counterparts, and they are typically seen as young, thin, attractive, overly sexualized, and limited in authority . The potential for these differences to impact viewers’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors can usefully be evaluated through the lens of Bandura’s social cognitive theory. This theoretical model

Authors: Mastro, Dana. and Stern, Susannah.
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Gender & Age in Commercials
8
frequently as men, they were significantly more likely to be depicted as clerical workers, and less likely to
be portrayed as business professionals.
Scholars have also assessed how characters act in the positions they hold. For example, Coltrane
and Adams (1997) found that women were less likely than men to be order-givers or to exercise authority.
Furnham & Farragher (2000) found that both males and females were more likely to be depicted as
autonomous than in any other role, although females were more likely to be shown in familial roles than
males. And finally, in terms of level of activity, viewed frequently as a sign of strength and power,
Coltrane and Adams (1997) indicated that men were twice as physically active as women.
Settings. The most common setting for females in commercials is the domestic residence
(Furnham & Bitar, 1993; Furnham & Farragher, 2000; Mazzella, Durkin, Cerini & Buralli, 1992). Bretl &
Cantor (1988) found that males were more likely than females to be seen outside
the home; this pattern
holds true for both White and African-American characters (Coltrane & Messineo, 2000). In their
comparison of sex-role stereotype studies from five continents over the past twenty-five years, Furnham
and Mak (1999) concluded that in general, females were more often portrayed at home, whereas males are
most frequently depicted in the outdoors. This pattern persisted even in children’s television. Analyses of
children’s commercials aired on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons revealed significantly fewer
boys-only commercials to be in a home setting compared to girls-only commercials (Larson, 2001; Smith,
1994). Kaufman (1999) found that although both men and women without children were more likely to
be shown outside rather than inside their homes, men shown with children but no spouse were twice as
likely to appear outside the home than women with children and no spouse.
Social Cognitive Theory
Altogether, the landscape of commercial images painted by recent content analytic studies
suggests that males and females are quite differently depicted. Females are underrepresented compared to
their male counterparts, and they are typically seen as young, thin, attractive, overly sexualized, and
limited in authority
.
The potential for these differences to impact viewers’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors
can usefully be evaluated through the lens of Bandura’s social cognitive theory. This theoretical model


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