Reflect on the concepts presented in the video and overview and the example of a growing body of research as captured in the article A Review of Facebook Research in the Social Sciences. Also, consider the question you posed about your advertisements in your observation journal in the last theme. Then, in a short answer response, address the following questions:
- How does social science inquiry advance and evolve over time?
- Why is it important that our understanding of social science concepts continue to develop and expand?
- Then, consider the question you posed in the observation journal, which you submitted in Theme 2. How could others build upon this question through additional research or follow-up questions?
Social Scientific Observations
I chose these four articles because in one way or another they are somehow connected and are trying to drive the same message home. Each of the advertisements is advertising a product. There is gender balance in the advertisement although women are seen playing bigger roles than the men. I personally am a woman and I love fragrance scent and would be attracted to it even from a distance or its advert in that case and would want to try it out. Everybody enjoy watching any advert that captures their attention from far and is actually beneficial to them not just for entertainment purposes but also for learning new experiences. One of the advertisements however, tries to portray the woman as a weaker gender and is attracting men by her dressing and her scent and this made me question where the women are placed in the society and their role compared to that of the society.
Assumptions and Observations
Each of the advertisement has a different audience to attract, watch and appeal. Most of them are done by white actors and actresses where the women are the majority. The highly intended audience of these advertisements therefore would be the young people. For the case of the Revlon fragrance and the vodka, those are entirely for people above a certain age probably eighteen due to restrictions to drinking and the type of the advert itself. In the Revlon one, it diminishes the woman and therefore it would be inaccurate to expose it to young people who might grow with the idea that the female are to attract men generally. The use of Maasai tribe is open to everyone and also the Bureau of Civil affairs.
The message the advertisements are trying to send all seem to be related in one way or another. For the first advertisement on the Revlon fragrance, the advertisement, the lady uses the perfume in question and to attract men and other women wherever she goes. The scent she leaves behind is the message being sent out to customers showing how good the perfume is and how strong it is thus lasting longer. The advertisement on vodka is used relay or drive home the message and idea that women are a key to good parties and not male alone. Although this is a little bit sexist the message is clear and the females dressed in provocative costumes leaves the question on whether the advert on a party or the vodka being advertised. The advert on the land rover, on the other hand, brings out the culture of the Maasai people. With their attires and the use of a lion which is symbolic, the message being given out is that the machine is very strong and can survive even in harsh areas.
Relationship between People:
It is clear that most of these advertisements have questionable relationships between the actors in the ads. For example the advert on the fragrance scent, the men see the lady as a sex tool. They are all attracted to her in some way, maybe because of what she is wearing, how she looks at them or maybe they are just interested in the fragrance and the product she is advertising. The advert on vodka too exposes women to men and this is not good at all especially in the societies where women are viewed as the weaker gender compared to men. The females are used to serve and entertain the men which are a weakening quality for the women. The advert on Maasai however, is very conservative and the actors are all relatable to one another without either of them being made to feel inferior of the others. Likewise, the advert on the orphan children is also well balanced. The relationship between genders is the most important relationship I observe in all these adverts.
Relationship with the Products and Services:
In each of the advertisements, the relationship that I personally chose to focus more on is that between the women and what they are trying to advertise be it the perfume or the vodka, the land rover or the services provided by the civil. Although the females are playing the major roles compared to the male, they are having a good relationship with the product being advertised and the message is driven home clearly well. The advertisement on the orphans with branded t-shirts too is well relatable to the kids. Although this could cause psychological trauma to the kids being exposed, there is no harm brought to them and the service is well advertised with the choice of having the affected kids on board.
According to me, the least effective advertisement is that of the land rover and the Maasai attires. The two are not relatable at all. The advert on the Revlon perfume is also not very effective as it is trying to diminish the female gender by portraying them as tools to be used by men for their entertainment and to serve them too. The dressing code blends in perfectly well with the venue and therefore effective for the advertisement. The vodka ad too exposes young men and women to too much public intimacy which happens to go against many cultures which are in turn aired and viewed by people of all ages. Although I feel like the message in this advert is well brought out and received, I think maybe, there could have been better ways of driving the same information without too much exposure.
Social Science Evidence
To back up my observation on the advertisements, I observed that the advertisements have been used to represent gender stereotypes of women in servile roles and also being weak and unable to resist desires. I looked for evidence within the course so far and my major interest being the portrayal of women in most of these adverts seems to fit both within the psychological and sociological fields of study. In Theme 1, we discovered that gender stereotype can be viewed and examined through the idea of social construction of these topics, meaning that the society creates and reinforces the category of gender. We also learned that psychology Anderson (2000), being the study of both the body and mind behavior (American Psychology Association, n.d.), plays a big function in the gender roles which may be socially constructed by the behavior of engaging in those gender roles which is very fascinating to me.
In theme 2, we learnt about perception and its role in these advertisements helps explain what we actually perceive when we watch the advertisements. The halo effect which is described as, ‘a bias in which our overall impression of a person colors our judgments of their character’ comes into play in multiple advertisements. For example in the case of the Revlon perfume, it is very easy to pass judgment on the lady as she is already portrayed of loose morals by the society and the people who watch the advertisement Nickerson (2007). Many females choosing to do advertisements leave the audience making assumptions and judgments on their weakness and tendency to give in to their desires very easily.
Confirmation bias, on the other hand, is used to describe why we perceive to do what we actually do after watching the advertisement. The existence of gender stereotypes is therefore more likely to interpret the advertisements in a language that is more understandable. According to my observation, most of these advertisements just act as a confirmation on where the females are placed in the society and their role in regards to men.
According to my observation from the four advertisements, it is very clear that society and even the people in the media and the advertisement industry still view women as the weaker gender compared to men. Although this is gradually changing, the human behavior is yet to place the woman where she rightfully belongs. Instead she is placed way below the man to serve him and receive orders from them. They are still viewed as tools to entertain men and have pleasure in any time they wish. With my acquired experience, the gender stereotypes portrayed in these adverts, the behaviors of the women here match the theme of gender stereotypes. Basing my views on a social scientific bases and using both the knowledge I have acquired from the course and my own personal experience, my question is “How do cognitive biases influence our behaviors to adhere to gender stereotypes?”
Anderson, J. (2000). Cognitive Psychology and its Implications.
American Psychology Association. (n.d.). Definition of Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/
Nickerson, S. (2007). Confirmation Bias: a Ubiquitous Phenomenon in many Guises. Review of General psychology. 2 (2). 175-220.