Aggressive advertising makes for aggressive men, study finds

February 28, 2013

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.

Explore further: Higher HIV risk in black gay men linked to partner choice, risk perception

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

Related Stories

Higher HIV risk in black gay men linked to partner choice, risk perception

May 2, 2011
Young black men who have sex with men (MSM) get infected with HIV nearly five times more often than MSM from other races, even though they don't have more unprotected sex.

Recommended for you

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

World-first ketamine trial shows promise for geriatric depression

July 24, 2017
Australian researchers have completed the world's first randomised control trial (RCT) assessing the efficacy and safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression in elderly patients.

Musicians have high prevalence of eating disorders, study finds

July 24, 2017
They may live for the limelight and the call of their muse, but musicians may also be prone to eating disorders, according to new research.

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.