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Study Finds Advertisements Promote Male Aggressiveness

Update Date: Mar 01, 2013 09:33 AM EST
Men's Magazines
New research links male aggressiveness to advertisements that display hyper-masculinity. (Photo : Flick/ prolix6x)

A new study found that advertisements in male magazines tend to display hyper-masculinity, which is an extreme and often unhealthy form of masculine gender ideology.  After observing the types of advertisements printed in men's magazines, the researchers decided to look into relationships between these types of advertisements, the influence they have on men, and the type of men in their targeted audience. The study was published in the journal Sex Roles and it concluded that aggressive advertisements have a significant influence in shaping aggressive men.

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The components that define hyper masculinity are toughness, violence, dangerousness and bad attitudes toward women and sex. The researchers used these four components in determining which advertisements displayed hyper masculinity. The researchers looked at eight popular male magazines that catered to different groups of men based on age, education level, and income. They found that at least one advertisement that depicted any of the four components of hyper masculinity showed up in 56 percent of the total amount of advertisements pulled from all of the magazines, which totaled 527. The researchers also found that in certain magazines, the percentage of aggressive advertisements went up to 90.

The magazines with the most amounts of aggressive advertisements were targeted to a younger and less educated group of men. This study reaffirmed previous findings that concluded that there is a relationship between hyper masculine ideas and a series of social and health issues, which include dangerous driving, drug use, and violence toward females. Since young men seem to be receiving most of the advertisements, the researchers are afraid of the impact the advertisements will have on these men who are still learning about appropriate gender relationships and behaviors.  On top of these factors, men with lower incomes and less economic or social power tend to exhibit more toughness and control over women as a means of gaining power and respect. Thus, the combination of all these factors can be very detrimental.

"The widespread depiction of hyper-masculinity in men's magazine advertising may be detrimental to both men and society at large. 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 study stressed.

This study is important for both advertisers and their audiences. In order to stop influencing people toward negative behaviors, advertisers should reconsider what their images really exhibit, or if they know the harmful effects, they should really question if the consequences are worth it. 

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