Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research: Men respond negatively to depictions of ‘ideal masculinity’ in ads

The male response to depictions of ideal masculinity in advertising is typically negative, which has implications for advertisers and marketers targeting the increasingly fragmented consumer demographic, according to research from a University of Illinois marketing expert.

Cele Otnes, a professor of advertising and of business administration who studies how marketing and advertising shapes consumption, says that men who compare themselves to the hyper-masculine or over-exaggerated male stereotypes in advertising and popular culture experience a range of emotions, including feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability.

“While partying and promiscuity are often depicted in advertising, some men find these images to be negative portrayals of their gender and are, in fact, turned off by them,” said Otnes, the Investors in Business Education Professor of Marketing at Illinois. “So it’s important to recognize that some men may react negatively or be adversely impacted by such images.”

According to the research, which was co-written by Linda Tuncay Zayer, of Loyola University, Chicago, six themes emerge from the analysis that reveal how men respond to ad depictions of ideal masculinity. Half of the themes – skepticism, avoidance and indifference – are negative, while the others – enhancement, striving and chasing – skew positive, with men seeing advertising as more of a motivational tool to enhance a certain aspect of themselves.

Although much research has examined the negative impact of advertising depictions on women and children, very little is known about the impact on men, Otnes says.

“The research is a first step toward developing an in-depth understanding of the responses and meanings appropriated to masculinity by Generation X consumers,” she said.

It also holds implications for advertisers and marketers, who can use the contributions from the research to “employ masculine themes in advertising more effectively and ethically,” Otnes says.

“As much as academics and some practitioners have called for responsibility in media messages targeting women and girls, attention also should be paid to men and boys,” she said.

According to Otnes, men’s responses to ads, as well as their consumer behaviors in general, are issues that are especially relevant in today’s marketplace. The main shopper in 32 percent of U.S. households is male, according to a study by Nielsen and the NPD Group, which is why it is more important than ever for advertisers and marketers to “find ways to appeal effectively to the male segment, and to do so in an ethical manner,” she said.

“People build up certain offensive and defensive strategies when they look at ads,” Otnes said. “If they feel threatened by an ad, it may actually bleed over into the way they feel about that product. So if a man is turned off by how males are portrayed in an advertisement, he’ll say, ‘I don’t want to be that guy’ ” – and that’s the end of his relationship with that brand. So teasing out what’s offensive from a sociological or cultural perspective is important.”

The male market demographic is “way, way more fragmented” than once believed, Otnes says.

“A lot of ads directed at males are still dominated by ‘The Player,’ ‘The Beer Drinker’ or ‘The Buddy,’ ” she said. “But those stereotypes don’t actually fit the vast majority of males. Advertisers and marketers need to broaden the spectrum, and create campaigns centered on more of the actual roles that men play – ‘The Dad,’ ‘The Husband’ and ‘The Handyman.’ Those types of ads weren’t easy to find at the time we were doing our research.”

The study was published in the book “Gender, Culture, and Consumer Behavior,” co-edited by Otnes and Zayer.

Phil Ciciora | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

nachricht NASA Goddard network maintains communications from space to ground
02.03.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>