Sex Role Stereotypes and Its Effects

Although many viewers may not realize, the media conveys many types of stereotpyes that may have an affect on viewers. A prevelant stereotype portrayed in numerous ways through media is sex role stereotypes. Sex role stereotypes suggest each gender certain ways they are expected to present themselves to the public in order to be accepted as normal in society.

What is a schema?
  • Schemas are the attributes or characteristics you use to define yourself
    • Powerfully affect how people process social information
    • Influence how people judge, perceive, or evaluate themselves and others
  • A role schema helps to organize your expectations about certain people based on a general set of expectations you have for the people who fit into those specific social categories

What is a stereotype?
  • A standard picture people have in their minds
  • Represents a generalization of this standard picture
    • Can often be viewed in a negative light: the role schema of people can be oversimplified
  • The way in which an item is presented and therefore interpreted by media consumers
    • Fiske and Taylor: label a stereotype as a “particular kind of role schema that organizes people’s expectations about other people who fall into certain social categories”

Sex Role Stereotypes
  • Men far outnumber women (2:1 ratio)
    • Uneven Population Distribution on The Simpsons:
    • The Simpsons
  • Married women on television are less likely to be employed than females in the actual population
  • Females are commonly portrayed as victims
  • Men are more likely to be depicted as aggressors in violent situations
  • Media example: The Simpsons

What is meta-analysis?
  • Process that statistically summarizes data from numerous studies so researchers can come to a relevant conclusion about a certain hypothesis.
    • “Television programming generally portrays men and women in traditional gender stereotypical roles… all content analyses illustrate the consistent finding that men are more often on TV, in higher status roles as characters, and are represented as having greater power than women” (Herrett-Skjellum & Allen)
    • Meta-analysis looks to draw a conclusion by examining a large amount of studies, but cannot prove statistics have an effect on society without evidence.
    • Harris & Lucas (1976)
    • The Stepford Wives Trailer

Construction of Social Reality
  • How these meta-analysis statistics affect reality
    • The consumption of media messages may be an important factor in how young people view the world
  • Hawkins and Pingree found that the beliefs of heavy television viewers tended to be consistent with common messages portrayed on television
    • Masculinity in Disney Films

Body Image Stereotypes
  • The way female bodies are represented and the impact of these depictions has been intensely studied over the last decade
  • Recently, Fouts and Burggraf found…
    • Females in situation comedies are judged as “below average” in weight
    • The higher the weight of the female characters, the more negative comments were made towards them by other characters on the show
    • Conclusion: shows present an inconsistent emphasis on extremely thin female bodies and reinforces the value of attractive people in our society
What is body dissatisfaction?
  • The unhappiness one may feel towards their own appearance
  • May be caused by the portrayal of thin females in the media
  • Many studies show females who view media images of other females are more likely to suffer from body dissatisfaction because women in the media are stereotypically portrayed as only thin
  • Media consumption is related to high body dissatisfaction, the drive for thinness, and various symptoms related to eating disorders.

    Body Dissatisfaction

What is social comparison?
  • When people compare something in real life to something they constantly see in the media
  • In this case, young women compare themselves to the images they see throughout the media
  • Differences of advertisements in male and female magazines
  • Could possibly lead them down the road to anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • Remember, all these effects are largely speculative

Critical Media Consumption
  • How can we negate the negative effects media is possibly having on society?
  • Critical media consumption is a theory that helps to teach media consumers to be educated about the false standards media can portray
  • As students, we can become aware of these stereotypes and do our best not to be so blindly oblivious to the effects they can have on our daily lives and our society
DoveSex Role Stereotypes and Its Effects - Social Impact of the Media
  • Dove Products. (2008). Campaign for real beauty. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from
  • Eggermont, S., Beullens, K., & Van Den Bulck, J. (2005). Television viewing and adolescent females’ body dissatisfaction: The mediating role of opposite sex expectations. Communications, 30(3), 343-357. Retrieved from SocINDEX database.
  • Harris, L. H., & Lucas, M. E. (1976). Sex-role stereotyping. Social Work, 21(5), 390-395. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database
  • Measure up: Degradation of women in music videos. (2008, February 9). Message posted to miskop7. (2007, August 10)
  • Newton, S. (2007, April 12). Sexism, strength and dominance: Masculinity in Disney films. Message posted to
  • Snow, D. E., & Snow, J. J. (2001). Simpsonian sexual politics. In W. Irwin, M. T. Conard, & A. J. Skoble (Eds.), The simpsons and philosophy: The d’oh of homer (pp. 126 144). Chicago: Open Court.
  • Sparks, G.G., (2006). Media effects research: A basic overview (2nd ed.). Belmont: Thomason Wadsworth.
  • The stepford wives. Message posted to
  • White, K. (Ed.). (2008, November). Cosmopolitan, 245(5).
  • Zinczenko, D. (Ed). (2008, October). Men’s health.

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