AGE AND GENDER STEREOTYPING IN TELEVISION COMMERCIALS By Susan E. Waters M.A., Pittsburg State University, 1997 Submitted to the Department of Communication Studies and the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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ii The Dissertation Committee for Susan E. Waters certifies that this is the approved version of the following dissertation:
AGE AND GENDER STEREOTYPING IN TELEVISION COMMERCIALS
iii ABSTRACT Susan E. Waters, Ph.D. Department of Communication Studies, May 2005 The University of Kansas Character age, sex, ethnicity, product type, primary setting, occupation, and traits were investigated for age and gender stereotyping of primary characters (N = 532) in a content analysis of 360 prime-time television commercials from four broadcast stations. Loglinear analysis of category frequencies showed that representation by age and ethnicity fit patterns reported in earlier research, with White characters overrepresented and older characters underrepresented in comparison to their presence in the population. Results for product type, occupation, and setting showed that characters were presented in ways that fit traditional sex and age stereotypes, as predicted. Specifically, in comparison to male characters and younger characters, female characters and older characters were presented more often with domestic products, in lower status occupations, and in home settings. Characters’ portrayal of 5 stereotypical gender and age traits (warmth, competence, vitality, health, and mental orientation) were rated on 5-point scales. Multivariate analysis of variance of the trait ratings provided no support for the hypothesis that age traits would be stronger in the portrayal of older characters, particularly older female characters, than would gender traits. However, main effects of character age and sex suggested that age stereotypes play a stronger role in the portrayal of characters than do gender stereotypes.
iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I could not have realized this goal without Dr. Mary Lee Hummert, who had the stamina to endure several years of working with me to improve my writing and research abilities. For your time and expertise, I am forever grateful. You are my mentor and guide and I will never be able to thank you for all you have done for me. To my committee: Dr. Yan Bing Zhang, Dr. Tracy Russo, Dr. Nancy Baym, and Dr. David Ekerdt, thank you all for your expert advice, your time, and your help in completing this project. You are why I knew the University of Kansas was the choice for my doctorate. You are the exemplars of a caring and committed faculty who want their students to succeed. To my friends at Missouri State: Dr. Carey Adams, Dr. Gloria Galanes, Dr. Deborah Larson, Dr. Sam Dyer, and others who knew that I would finish the dissertation, I thank all of you for your faith in me. Thank you, Dr. Karen Anderson. Without you I could not have completed this endeavor. You steered me in the direction I needed to go many times. Thank you to my close friend, Dr. Carolyn Hale, who encouraged me every step of the way. And finally, thank you to my loving and supportive husband and family who were confident that I would finish, even when I was discouraged. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
v TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ........................................................................................................................ iii List of Tables...
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