The purpose of this study is to examine how Chinese adolescent girls and boys interpret female images in gendered advertisements based on Tobin et al.’s (2010) gender self-socialization model (GSSM).
In total, 48 Hong Kong adolescents studying in high schools or university year one participated in a focus group study. Four advertisements with different types of female images were presented. Interviewees were asked to discuss the appearance, the personality and the work and family life of the female characters in the advertisements. Interviewers then asked them to select the one most closely representing their ideal female image.
Most of the interviewees chose an urban sophisticate as the character closest to their ideal female image. Female interviewees identified with the urban sophisticate and aspired to the cultured nurturer image. However, they rejected the strong woman and the “flower vase” female images.
The generalizability of the findings was limited because of the small sample size and non-probability sampling.
When targeting adolescents, advertisers should consider using female images displaying a personality that is neither too strong nor too weak.
This is the first study to investigate how Hong Kong adolescents interpret female images from gendered advertisements. This study also clarifies the gender concepts to explain how adolescents perceive gendered advertisements.
We would like to thank Miss Anqi Huang, project assistant at Hong Kong Baptist University, for her contribution in data analysis.
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