Definition of psychology

SCS 100 Theme 2: Project 2 Exemplar

 

Article Choice

I chose the advertisements that I did because I was interested in how they related gender to

food. Each advertisement is marketing a certain food: gelato, candy bars, or ice cream. Each

advertisement depicts either females alone or females in specific gender roles. I was also

intrigued by the advertisements because I am female and I enjoy eating chocolate. When I have

had a hard day I enjoy coming home and indulging in dessert to comfort myself. Some of the

advertisements portray women as having a desire for sweets, which made me question my own

tendency to desire sweet foods after a hard day at work.

Assumptions and Observations

 

Audience. Each advertisement has a specific audience to which it appeals. Each

advertisement depicts mostly white actors and actresses. The intended audience of these

advertisements are people who use food as reward. The audience for these advertisements

would most likely be people from a westernized civilization who have excess food to use for

pleasure or reward. For example, people who live in countries where there is not easy access to

plentiful amounts of food would not have the same relationship to food as the people depicted in

these advertisements. There are other aspects of the advertisements that make me think the

intended audience is white and westernized. For example, the marriage in the Milky Way

advertisement appears to be a traditional Christian wedding, based on the presence of a priest

and the decoration of the church. The Freddo Ice Cream advertisement depicts children, all of

them white, and represents a democracy in which people are elected to government positions.

The Celebration advertisement is also showing individuals—all of whom are also white—who

again are using food as a way of celebrating. Finally, the Antonio Federici advertisement is

depicting a white nun being sinful by eating chocolate, which again seems to be portraying a

relationship between indulgence and food. I believe the relationship of food as indulgence is a

more westernized and privileged notion. Based on my observations, I believe the intended

audience for most of these advertisements are middle-class, white women.

 

Message. The message the advertisements are sending all seem to be about the

relationship between people and food. For the Federici advertisement, the message is that

women use rich, sweet food for indulgence and as a “guilty pleasure.” The advertisement even

seems to relate the indulgence of this sweet food with sin by showing a nun who is pregnant.

The Freddo Ice Cream advertisement is also showing a relationship between food and people.

In this advertisement, I observed that the girls are the ones serving food, while the boy is the

one running for office. This advertisement seems to portray a stereotype of women serving

men. It also is showing a relationship between women being the ones to handle the serving and

maybe even the preparation of food. The Celebration advertisement’s message again appears to

show a relationship between women celebrating with food. The ad even shows the girls

celebrating other’s misfortune, thereby seeming to portray females as selfish. The Milky Way

advertisement also depicts a woman as being selfish by indulging in chocolate, which makes

her late for her own wedding. A common message is showing gender stereotypes as they relate

to women and food.

 

 

 

 

Relationship between people. I believe that in most of these advertisements, the most

important relationship depicted between people is the relationship between sinful females and

others. For example, in the Antonio Federici advertisement, one thinks of an innocent nun who

has sinned. Females are supposed to be innocent and this advertisement taps into the hidden

desires of females. I believe these advertisements also show women as weak compared to their

desires; for example, the women in the Celebration advertisement care only about winning and

do not care about their injured competitor. Although the Freddo Ice Cream advertisement

depicts a different type of gender stereotype, it is still important. The Freddo advertisement

shows females serving males and acting in less important or secondary roles. The relationship

between genders is the most important relationship I observe in these advertisements.

 

Relationship with product. In each of the advertisements, the relationship that I chose

to focus on is the relationship between women and food. The Freddo Ice Cream advertisement

shows females in the traditional secondary role of serving and preparing food, while the male is

in the primary role of running for office. The other three advertisements all portray women as

being selfish and indulgent when they engage in eating sweet food. The relationship is that a

woman cannot help herself and indulges in the guilty pleasure of a sweet food.

 

Effectiveness. For me, the least effective advertisement is the Celebration

advertisement, because it depicts females acting in an obviously selfish way by showing them

celebrating when their competitor is injured. The Milky Way advertisement also shows a

woman acting selfishly, but the ad does it in a less obvious way; the consequence of her selfish

behavior is not celebrating another person getting hurt, but that people have to wait for her

wedding. Therefore, the Milky Way advertisement is more effective than the Celebration

advertisement. I also believe the obviousness of the message impacts the effectiveness of the

Antonio Federici advertisement, because if the nun were not pregnant, the message of indulging

and being sinful would be less obvious, and would therefore be more effective for me. Finally,

the Freddo Ice Cream advertisement very obviously depicts stereotypical gender roles; for me,

it is hard to look past that and focus on the product. Overall, the advertisements that make a less

obvious attempt at getting their message across seem to be the most effective.

Social Science Evidence

 

To back up my observations about the relationship between women and food, which in these

advertisements I observed to represent gender stereotypes of women in servile roles and as

being weak and unable to resist their desires, I looked for evidence within the course so far.

My interest in the portrayal of the women in these advertisements seems to fit both within the

psychological and sociological fields. In Theme 1, we learned that gender stereotypes can be

examined through the idea of the “social construction” of these topics, meaning that society

creates and reinforces the category of gender. In Theme 1, we learned that psychology is the

study of the mind and behavior (American Psychological Association, n.d.) and even though

gender roles may be socially constructed, the behavior of engaging in those gender roles is

very interesting to me.

 

We learned about perception in Theme 2. Perception plays a big role in these advertisements

because it helps to explain why we perceive what we do from these advertisements. The halo

effect is described as “a bias in which our overall impression of a person (a figurative halo)

 

 

 

colors our judgments of that person’s character” (Baumann Foundation, 2013). The halo effect

comes into play in multiple advertisements. For example, in the Antonio Federici

advertisement, we see a nun who has sinned and we start to make assumptions about all the

other choices in her life. We also do this with the Celebration and Milky Way advertisements.

The depiction of females choosing to indulge within the advertisements leaves the audience

making assumptions about the females’ overall weaknesses and tendency to give into their

desires. Confirmation bias can also be used to describe why we perceive what we do from these

advertisements. Confirmation bias is described as seeking and/or interpreting evidence in a way

that is congruent with one’s existing beliefs or expectations (Nickerson, 1998). Gender

stereotypes already exist; therefore, we are more likely to interpret the advertisements in line

with the gender stereotypes with which we are familiar. According to confirmation bias, we see

the Freddo Ice Cream advertisement as confirming societal gender stereotypes that women are

secondary to men. Even though these cognitive biases happen automatically, we learned in

Theme 2 that they influence our opinions and emotions about situations.

Question

 

The Theme 1 overview describes one of the big questions in psychology as “What motivates

individuals to act in certain ways?” I used this question, along with the evidence about cognitive

biases, to help inform my own question about gender stereotypes. I am also using my own

experiences because in my household I do more of the cleaning, while my husband does the

lawn work. These behaviors fit into stereotypical gender roles of women doing more of the

cleaning and cooking and men doing more of the yard work. Although my experience is

different than the gender stereotypes portrayed in the advertisements, these behaviors still fit

into the theme of gender stereotypes. I created a question a social scientist might ask using both

the information from the course and my own experiences. Based on this information, my social

science question is: How do cognitive biases influence our behaviors to adhere to gender

stereotypes?

 

References

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Definition of psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/

The Baumann Foundation. (2013). The halo effect: Why angels and devils walk the earth. Retrieved from

http://www.beinghuman.org/article/halo-effect

Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General

Psychology, 2(2), 175–220.

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