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TV commercials as achievement scripts for women


This study suggests that sex stereotypes implicitly enacted, but never explicitly articulated, in TV commercials may inhibit women's achievement aspirations. Men and women (N=180) viewed locally produced replicas of four current, sex-stereotyped commercials, or four replicas that were identical except that the sex roles were reversed, or (control) named their favorite TV programs. All subjects then wrote an essay imagining their lives “10 years from now.” The essays were coded for achievement and homemaking themes. Women who viewed traditional commercials deemphasized achievement in favor of homemaking, compared to men and compared to women who had seen reversed role commercials. The reversed role commercials eliminated the sex difference in net achievement focus. Control subjects were indistinguishable from their same-sex counterparts in the traditional condition. The results identified some social changes needed to make “equality of opportunity” a social reality for women as well as men.

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Geis, F.L., Brown, V., Jennings (Walstedt), J. et al. TV commercials as achievement scripts for women. Sex Roles 10, 513–525 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287260

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  • Control Subject
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Change
  • Social Reality
  • Reversed Role