Abstract
When a woman wears a sexist brand, does it empower a fellow
woman to take pride in her gender identity or does it encourage
that bystander to further objectify the female gender? Past
research has established behavioral effects showing that math
scores of women decrease when gender identity is threatened
(Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998; Logel,
Walton, Spencer, Iserman, von Hippel, & Bell, 2009; Steele,
1997). However, this stereotyped performance is just one aspect
of how women may change when confronted with a gender
identity threat. It has also been found that women try to
distinguish themselves from their gender social group when the
low status of women is made salient to protect their collective
self-esteem (Cohen & Garcia, 2005). We wanted to uncover if
sexism relates to collective self-esteem, social perception, and
performance. In sum, the purpose of this research project was
threefold: 1) Do potentially sexist brands activate stereotype
threat and influence math performance? 2) Does seeing a fellow
woman wearing a sexist brand influence perception and result in
defensive distancing? and 3) Does wearing a sexist brand lead to
negative perceptions of that wearer?
Methods
Participants: 195 Women. Average age = 19.4 years.
Materials:
•20-item math exam taken from GRE Practice Tests
•13-item PAQ: Personal Attributes Questionnaire
•16-item CSE Scale: Collective Self-Esteem Scale
•30-item Sex-Role Ideology Scale
Procedure: Participants watched the a confederate woman giving
test-taking advice (video) in one of the three conditions. Then
participants took the math test and completed a series of
questionnaires.
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Results
Intelligent
Determined
-0.5
Capable
0
Self Respecting
Introduction
University of Wisconsin Green Bay
Defensive Distancing
Strength
Does exposure to a sexist brand activate sexist schemas
leading to stereotype threat, reaction in how the self is
viewed, and influences in how the wearer of the brand is
viewed? 195 female participants watched a video in which a
confederate gave test taking advice wearing either the
Hooters® logo, Syracuse logo, or no logo. Participants
engaged in more defensive distancing and had a greater
negative perception of the Hooters® logo wearing
confederate than any other condition. Participants felt better
about themselves in We provide strong empirical evidence
of the objectifying effect of sexist brands.
Stephanie Freis, Amy Weise, Krystal VanHoff, & Regan A. R. Gurung
• Participants distanced themselves farther from the confederate
in the Hooters® shirt than in the Syracuse or no logo condition.
• The confederate woman was rated more negatively when
wearing the Hooters® logo shirt than any other shirt.
• No significant differences were found on the math test or the
Sex-Role Ideology Scale.
• CSE subscales, Membership and Importance to Identity, were
significantly correlated to Total Distancing in PAQ scores.
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Discussion
ab
-1.5
Syracuse
Hooters
No Logo
-2
Confederate Ratings
5.5
5
4.5
While Western culture has the common belief that the media
objectifies women, it also has the same belief that women can
empower others by taking hold of their sexuality and be proud to
show it. From this study, we found the claim of empowerment to
be false. It did not matter what participant’s feminism vs. sexism
values were; every woman had similar reactions to the sexist
brand. Participants were more likely to engage in defensive
distancing and form a poorer view of the confederate woman in
the video when she was wearing a Hooters® shirt than when she
wore a Syracuse shirt or a shirt with no logo. Furthermore,
individuals who perceived significant membership or identity in
the social group of women, were more vulnerable to the
influence of another woman confirming the stereotypical role by
wearing a sexist logo. Sexism, even when subtly reflected in a
brand, has enough power to significantly influence a fellow
woman’s perception of not only the person sporting the logo but
of herself as well.
The main limitation of this study arose in our math test.
Although all material was from GRE materials, we believe
significant differences were not found due to the level of
difficultly and lack of motivation for the exam.
4
3.5
3
Determined
Syracuse
Intelligent
Hooters
Self Respecting
No Logo
Presented at the 2011 American Psychological Association’s Annual Conference. Washington D.C. [email protected]
In sum, we found that strong effects of sexism. No matter what a
woman’s belief on sexism, these results suggest that a woman
wearing a sexist brand will contribute to the maintenance of male
dominance in our society and will at the same time hinder her
own social group. Consequently, it would be most beneficial to
female bystanders and women as a social group to diminish the
endorsement of sexist logos.
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Sexist Brands - University of Wisconsin