Aggressive advertising makes for aggressive men, study finds

Does advertising influence society, or is it merely a reflection of society's pre-existing norms? Where male attitudes are concerned, a new study implicates magazine advertisements specifically aimed at men as helping to reinforce a certain set of views on masculinity termed "hyper-masculinity." The article by Megan Vokey, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Manitoba, and colleagues is published in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

Hyper-masculinity is an extreme form of masculine gender ideology comprised of four main components: toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex. The authors found that hyper-masculine depictions of men, centered on this cluster of beliefs, appear to be common place in U.S. magazine advertisements.

Using a range of eight, high-circulation magazines marketed to men of different ages, levels of education and income (e.g. Golf Digest to Game Informer), Vokey and her colleagues analyzed the ads in each magazine where a photograph, picture or symbol of a man was shown. The researchers then categorized these advertisements using the four components that constitute hyper-masculinity. They found that at least one of these hyper-masculine attitudes was depicted in 56 percent of the total sample of 527 advertisements. In some magazines, this percentage was as high as 90 percent.

Vokey's results are consistent with considerable prior research showing a positive association between hyper-masculine beliefs and a host of social and , such as dangerous driving, and violence towards women. Further analysis of the data showed that magazines with the highest proportion of hyper-masculine advertisements were those aimed at younger, less-affluent and less-educated men. The authors argue that this is an area of real concern as are still learning appropriate gender behaviors, and their beliefs and attitudes can be subtly shaped by images that the repeatedly represent. In addition, men with lower social and economic power are already more likely to use a facade of and physical violence as methods of gaining power and respect. These advertisements are thought to help reinforce the belief that this is desirable behavior.

The authors conclude, "The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men's magazine advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large. Although theoretically, as a group can resist the harmful aspects of hyper-masculine images, the effects of such images cannot be escaped completely." They add that educating advertisers about the potential negative consequences of their advertising may help reduce the use of these stereotypes.

More information: Vokey M, Tefft B and Tysiaczny C (2013). An analysis of hyper-masculinity in magazine advertisements. Sex Roles; DOI 10.1007/s11199-013-0268-1

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds macho men a liability on roads

May 26, 2010

"Catch that car!," was the instruction given to 22 men sitting in a driving simulator. The more "macho" the man, the more risks he took on the road, according to a study by Julie Langlois, a graduate student at the University ...

Does everyone really want to be a macho man?

Jun 04, 2008

Traditional attitudes of masculinity, such as physical toughness and personal sacrifice, are valued in Mexican culture. A University of Missouri researcher found that Mexican-American men, as a group, are more likely to endorse ...

The deep voice of alpha male

May 28, 2010

Men with a deep, masculine voice are seen as more dominant by other men but a man's own dominance - perceived or actual - does not affect how attentive he is to his rivals' voices. His own dominance does however influence ...

Recommended for you

Report advocates improved police training

22 hours ago

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

Aug 29, 2014

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being ...

Learning to read involves tricking the brain

Aug 29, 2014

While reading, children and adults alike must avoid confusing mirror-image letters (like b/d or p/q). Why is it difficult to differentiate these letters? When learning to read, our brain must be able to inhibit ...

User comments