Does advertising influence society, or is it merely a reflection of society's pre-existing norms? Where male attitudes are concerned, a new study implicates magazine advertisements specifically aimed at men as helping to reinforce a certain set of views on masculinity termed "hyper-masculinity." The article by Megan Vokey, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Manitoba, and colleagues is published in Springer's journal Sex Roles.
Hyper-masculinity is an extreme form of masculine gender ideology comprised of four main components: toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex. The authors found that hyper-masculine depictions of men, centered on this cluster of beliefs, appear to be common place in U.S. magazine advertisements.
Using a range of eight, high-circulation magazines marketed to men of different ages, levels of education and income (e.g. Golf Digest to Game Informer), Vokey and her colleagues analyzed the ads in each magazine where a photograph, picture or symbol of a man was shown. The researchers 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.