A new study has found that magazine advertisements may help promote troubling behavior in young men.
That’s because some ads reinforce a set of views on masculinity termed “hyper-masculinity.”
Researchers said hyper-masculinity is an extreme form of masculine gender ideology made up of four main components:
Prior research has shown a link between hyper-masculine beliefs and a number of social and health problems, such as dangerous driving, drug use and violence towards women.
For the study, researchers analyzed ads in eight, high-circulation magazines marketed to men, from Golf Digest to Game Informer. Megan Vokey, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Manitoba, and her colleagues considered only the ads where a photograph, picture or symbol of a man was shown.
They 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, according to the researchers.
Further analysis showed that magazines with the highest proportion of hyper-masculine advertisements were those aimed at younger, less-affluent and less-educated men, according to the researchers.
The researchers argue that this is an “area of concern as young men are still learning appropriate gender behaviors, and their beliefs and attitudes can be subtly shaped by images” repeatedly shown in the mass media.
Additionally, men with lower social and economic power are more likely to use “a facade of toughness and physical violence as methods of gaining power and respect,” the researchers note. The advertisements are thought to help reinforce the belief that this is desirable behavior, they add.
“The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men’s magazine advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large,” the researchers conclude in the study, which was published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.
“Although theoretically, men as a group can resist the harmful aspects of hyper-masculine images, the effects of such images cannot be escaped completely.”
The researchers suggest that educating advertisers about the potential negative consequences of their advertising may help reduce the use of these stereotypes.