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Subject: AEJ 03 RohE ADV Gender Role Stereotyping in Childrens Television Advertising: United States and South Korea
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 21 Sep 2003 14:36:33 -0400

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Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's Television Advertising, 2003:
A Cross-Cultural Study of the United States and South Korea

Author: Eun-Jung Roh (Graduate Student)

Affiliation: E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in Ohio University

Address: 126 South Green Dr., Brough House Rm.#117,
                Athens, OH 45701

Telephone: (740) 597-7214

E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's Television Advertising, 2003:
A Cross-Cultural Study of the United States and South Korea


This study examined gender role portrayals in a sample of 212 television
advertisements featuring children in programming aimed at children in the
United States and South Korea. The results of the study showed that the
recent tendency to increase the proportion of girls' characters and their
independent interaction in the samples of both nations supports that gender
portrayals in TV commercials have less stereotyped content than had been
indicated by previous research. However, despite the similarities between
the two countries' samples shown in this study, significant differences in
proportion of girl's characters and female voice-overs were found.

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's Television Advertising, 2003:
A Cross-Cultural Study of the United States and South Korea


The pervasive mass media in our society have a broad influence on our
perception of appropriate sex roles. One powerful source that perpetuates
sex-role learning is television, which is the mainstream of the common
symbolic environment into which our children are born and in which we all
live out our lives (Gerbner, et al., 1994). In its role as a potential
socialization agent, particularly among young people, children can discover
how they are supposed to behave and feel. Children learn a great deal from
television about sex-typed behaviors because it provides them with a wealth
of models readily available for observation (Peirce, 1989). Studies of the
actual effects of stereotyping shown on television have demonstrated that
televised images influence children's values, self-esteem, and product
preferences (Tan, 1979; Martin and Gentry, 1997; Ruble, et al., 1981).
Concern about gender stereotyping has focused not only on television
programs, but also upon their advertising content. Stereotypes in
advertising on children's television programs have been special concerns
because they influence the way in which individuals interact socially and
perceive themselves (Macklin and Kolbe, 1994). Concerns have been voiced
that this pronounced stereotyping of the sexes may cultivate distorted
views about the character of, and appropriate social and professional,
roles for women (Butler and Paisley, 1980; Durkin, 1985 in brief report 1997).
However, there have been few attempts to draw international comparisons as
to gender stereotyping in children's television advertising. Most studies
on sex-role stereotypes were content analyses intended to determine the
current state of sex portrayals and included some longitudinal studies
designed to measure whatever progress has been made. Furthermore, studies
on gender role portrayals typically examined the advertising in the U.S.
and/or other Western countries, leaving unstudied the question of cultural
influence on advertising sex role portrayals (Gilly, 1988), especially in
Asian countries.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea

South Korea: Background
        Unlike the individualistic West, Korean society emphasizes a nationalistic
and collective consciousness. This conservative and nationalistic thinking
has drastically changed. Cultural defeatism, which prevails in current
Korean society, coupled with a preference for new things from abroad, has
created significant cultural turmoil, especially for younger South Koreans
who are willing to adopt ideas and trends from the West (Park and Weigold,
Per capita GNP of only US$100 in 1963 exceeded $ 10,000 in 1997 with a
population of about 47.5 million. One of the world's poorest countries only
a generation ago, South Korea is now the United States' eighth-largest
trading partner and has the 11th-largest economy in the world (U.S.
Department of State, 2003). However, there has been little concern with
market research until very recently, despite the growth of the Korean
advertising industry into the world's 13th largest with about US$ 1.1
billion spent on advertising in 2002 (Nielson Media Research, 2002). This
growth has accelerated greatly in the past decade, primarily because of
three factors: democratic reform of 1987, development of a free press, and
the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul (Park and Weigold, 1999).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Another reason for the growth is education, an important factor in the
country's economic development. South Korea has long been an
education-oriented society. Traditional Confucian valuesórespect for
authority, hard work, and the importance of scholarship as a means of
self-improvementóare deep-rooted, so parents and pupils are highly
motivated and show strong commitment to learning (Times Educational
Supplement, 1999).
        In many ways, the United States and South Korea share common advertising
practices. Some exceptions, however, are apparent. Korea does not permit
comparative advertising. Although there are no substantial differences
between Korea and the United States in advertising to children, Korea
places greater restrictions on how ads are executed. For example, children
as spokespersons are forbidden. (Park and Weigold, 1999).

Purpose and Significance of the Study
The current study is a cross-cultural analysis to find whether boys and
girls are portrayed differently in television advertising designed for
children in America and South Korea. These nations were selected as being
representative of North American and East Asian commercials. Comparisons
are made, using a standard coding frame, between advertisements appearing
on American and South Korean weekend morning television shows aimed at
younger viewers.
  The study of sex-role portrayals to children in television advertising
could be particularly important because observational learning has been
regarded as the first step in the acquisition of sex-typed behaviors
(Mischel, 1966). Also, advertising is a critical channel through which the
members of a society may learn about their culture and expected attitudes,
including sex roles (Ji and McNeal, 2001). This is especially true for
young children, who are still in the process of internalizing their own
culture, and becoming members of the society.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        Comparisons of stereotyping across nations could contribute to a better
understanding of stereotyping and its relationship with cultural factors
(Browne, 1998). A content analysis of South Korean children's television
advertising could also provide some guidance regarding Korean children's
commercial content to Western advertising practitioners and firms wanting
to reach Korea's youth market. Finally, each country has unique elements of
history and national character, including variation in personal values and
cultural traditions (Hofstede, 2001), which could differentially affect
advertising content.

Literature Review

Social Learning and Cultivation Theory
In the social learning system, new patterns of behavior can be acquired
through direct experience or by observing the behavior of others (Bandura,
1971). Moreover, social learning theory assumes that modeling influences
play a primary role in learning, and through modeling, children learn about
the characteristics of their own sex (Courtney and Whipple, 1983). When
models are present in televised form that is so effective in capturing
attention, children acquire the depicted behavior regardless of whether
they are given extra incentives to do so (Bandura, 1971).  In particular,
television characters often are physically attractive, influential models
for children (Macklin and Kolbe, 1984), who tend to accept and internalize
the attitudes and values, and behaviors, portrayed on broadcast television
(Swan, 1998). Thus, television as a major socialzation agent for American
children (Swan, 1998) and Korean, has provided children with models from
which they can learn sex role behaviors (Bandura, 1963).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        From the perspective of cultivation theory, our perceptions of social
reality are also heavily influenced by media images and portrayals
(Gerbner, et al., 1994). Gerbner likened the affect of stereotypic
television portrayals on developing notions of what differing groups of
people are like to the cumulative effects of cultivation on a crop
(Gerbner, et al., 1980). He also argued that heavy viewers of television
tend to believe that the "real" world is like the television world (Gerbner
et, al., 1994).
Children, especially young children, tend strongly to think everything they
see on television is "real" (Christenson and Roberts, 1983) because they
don't have preconceived notions about society and its working (Swan, 1998).
Thus, the cultivation effects of viewing particular kinds of people over
and over again in the same kinds of roles can strongly impact the
developing child's notions of their own and others' places in the world
(Swan, 1998).

U.S. Studies of Gender Role Stereotypes in Advertising
        Over the past 30 years, content analyses of television and its advertising
have found that women were underrepresented and portrayed in stereotypic
ways (Signorielli, 1985). Recent studies have shown unequal representation
of the sexes in television advertisements. Women were portrayed more often
as dependent, unintelligent consumers concerned with the social
consequences of purchasing a product, while men tended to be portrayed as
independent, intelligent, objective decision makers who demonstrated
expertise and authority (Furnham and Skae, 1997). Bretl and Cantor (1988)
argued that important questions remain concerning whether the depiction of
women in advertising is stereotyped, showing an inaccurate, narrow view of
women's true roles. The same questions could be raised as to how
advertisements depict both girls and boys.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        Researchers have also paid special attention to the portrayal of
characters in advertising directed to children, or which appear during
children's television. Content analyses have indicated a predominance of
male-dominated television advertisements (Verna, 1974; Doolittle and
Pepper, 1975; Welch, et al., 1979; Macklin and Kolbe, 1984; Smith, 1994;
Larson, 2001), showing consistently that the content of TV advertising has
been stereotypical for at least 20 years or so. For example, females have
been typically submissive while males have been shown to be dominant,
having high activity levels (Verna, 1974; Smith, 1994; Larson, 2001).
Moreover, in terms of setting location, females have been associated with
domestic settings at home and males with outdoor settings away from home
(Smith, 1994; Larson, 2001).  Boys have had more major roles, and their
portrayals were more diverse than girls' portrayals (Macklin and Kolbe,
1984). In general, traditional masculine and feminine stereotypes have been
portrayed in children's television advertising (Welch, et al., 1979; Smith,

Cross-Cultural Studies of Gender Role Stereotypes in Advertising
        The substantial degree of cross-cultural similarity and difference in
adult-defined sex-trait stereotypes leads to the expectation that
cross-cultural similarities and differences are also seen in the
psychological traits that young children associate with men and with women
(Williams and Best, 1990). Williams and Best (1990), in a series of studies
involving 24 countries, found the same sequence of gender-stereotype
learning in all countries, but they also found country-related variations
in the numbers and kinds of traits ascribed to men and women.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Browne (1998) examined current levels of gender stereotyping in television
commercials aimed at children in the United States and Australia. The
results of this study, which were generally similar to those of previous
studies, might reflect "country-related variations in ideals of male and
female behavior or indicate actual differences in efforts at
counter-stereotyping" (Browne, 1998).
Gender research in Asian societies is a recent phenomenon, and it generally
has shown differing spheres for men and women. Choe, Wilcox and Hardy
(1986) found that models in American media ads are older than those in
Korean media. Ji and McNeal (2001) compared children's commercials in the
U.S. and China, and found that Chinese children's commercials reflected
China's traditional cultural values and its social and economic development
level. Also, they found some evidence of Western values creeping into
Chinese children's commercials (Ji and McNeal, 2001). Moon and Chan (2002)
examined gender portrayal within television commercials in Hong Kong and
Korea and found that gender portrayal of central characters and the level
of gender stereotyping in Hong Kong commercials were similar to those of
Korean commercials. The research report included a possible explanation
about the emerging youth market in Asian countries as a homogeneous group
in terms of gender image in advertising communication (Moon and Chan, 2002).

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Hypotheses and Research Questions
        In previous research, Hofstede's Masculinity Index provided a framework
for gender role depictions (Milner and Collins, 2000; Moon and Chan, 2002).
Within a given culture, men have more masculine values on average and women
have more feminine values, with differences between the sexes being greater
in masculine countries than in feminine countries (Hofstede, 1997). Highly
masculine cultures emphasize differentiated sex roles and separate life
spheres for men and women (Cooper-Chan, et al., 1995).
        The index of Hofstede's cultural dimension showed the U.S. as a highly
masculine culture, with a score of 62 compared to South Korea low-masculine
score of 39 (Hofstede, 2001). In contrast to this result, however, Korea
has generally been considered a high-masculine country in a psychological
sense because Korea has been a traditionally male-dominant society. One of
the main characteristics of the Korean family culture is patriarchy in
which the rights and benefits of the family members are subordinate to
those of the patriarch (Park, 2001). The female/wife, for example, has
performed her duties as a subordinate producer who engaged in domestic
labor under the patriarchal production structure. Thus, Korea also has
traits of a masculine society, and advertisements in Korea might depict
significant sex-roles differences between boy and girl characters as much
as those in America.
H1: Commercials on South Korean television are consistent with traditional
gender stereotypes, as those appearing on American television.

        Previous content analyses (Doolittle and Pepper 1975; Macklin and Kolbe
1984; Smith 1994) showed consistency in gender stereotyping in past
decades, but realization of the possible negative consequences of
stereotyping in advertising in recent years was expected to result in a
reduction of stereotyped content (Browne, 1998).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
H2: Gender portrayals in TV commercials of America and South Korea have
less stereotyped content than had been indicated by previous research.

To explore the nature of sex-role differences in advertising aimed
specifically at children, this study asked the following research questions
based on past studies:
RQ1: What is the proportion of commercials that feature girls only, boys only,
and boys and girls together?
RQ2: Are there differences in terms of the level of activity, types of
activity, and
interaction featured in commercials that feature girls only, boys only, and
boys and girls together?
RQ3: Are there differences in the settings of commercials that depict
females only,
males only, or females and males together?
RQ4: Are there differences in the types of products featured in commercials
depict girls only, boys only, and boys and girls together?
RQ5: What is the proportion of male to female voice-overs in commercials aimed
at children?


To compare the commercials that target Korean children with those of
previous studies in the United States, and to test the related hypotheses,
the researcher arranged to record children's television commercials
simultaneously in the United States and South Korea. This simultaneous
recording enabled us to look for content differences in the commercials
between the two countries while controlling for the variance caused by time
Samples of national brand TV commercials shown on the major networks in
each country were collected over two consecutive weekends, January 25, 26
and February 1, 2 in 2003. These times were selected as similar reason in
line with Doolittle and Pepper's study which had chosen Feb. 9, 1974,
calling it for "representative of a typical weekend in that it did not
occur near a major holiday and was within the prime viewing season"
(Doolittle and Pepper, 1975).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
The sample consisted of advertisements in children's programming broadcast
on three U.S. television networks (ABC, CBS, and Fox) and one U.S.
independent television network (Nickelodeon). The week recorded was the
fourth week of January 2003. Further, following several previous studies of
children's advertising (Riffe, et al, 1989; Macklin and Kolbe, 1984; Smith,
1994), network-aired commercials could be analyzed to enhance
"generalizablity beyond an individual market." NBC was not included in the
sample because all of NBC's Saturday programming is targeted at teens
rather than young children (Larson, 2001). Nickelodeon, even though it is
on cable and not available to all children, had captured a 48 percent share
of the total TV audience, ranging from 2 to 11 years of age (Burgi, 1996).
Fox Children's TV Network has also been aggressively pursuing the
children's market (Flint, 1996). On weekdays, only Fox and Nickelodeon
feature commercial children's programming. For this reason, programming
from Fox and Nickelodeon was also examined in this study.
A similar procedure was followed to provide a representative sample of
Korean commercials. TV commercials were taped form three national channels
which show commercials: MBC, CBS, and KBS2, a government owned station.
KBS1, another government station, does not show commercials. National brand
ads monitored on the government-owned channel did not differ from those of
privately owned stations in terms of frequency and content.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Children are most likely to view prime-time, adult-oriented programming as
well as Saturday and Sunday morning shows made specifically for child
audiences (Nielson Media Research, 1992). The time period for this study
thus included hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings between 8:00 a.m. to
11:00 a.m. in each nation. This time period for sampling commercials in
both countries seems appropriate because Saturday and Sunday mornings are
prime kids viewing hours (Burgi, 1996).
        Duplicated commercials were not included because they can introduce bias
from broadcast frequency of commercials. Public service announcements,
station identifications, and promotional messages also were excluded.

Coding Procedure
        The unit of the analysis was the individual image of real and animated
children and young adolescents. These images were coded on several
variables. In developing a coding scheme, a list of categories was selected
from previous related studies in the U.S. because few studies concerning
gender role portrayals on children's television commercials could be found
in Korea
The apparent target audience or orientation of the ad was determined by the
sex of the major (dominant) characters in the ads. Because of the
difficulty of coding for gender in commercials with large groups of people,
only commercials with fewer than five characters were coded for the number
of boys and girls. If only a single gender appeared or one was dominant,
the orientation was of that sex; when both genders were presented in even
numbers, the orientation of the ad was classified as neutral (boys & girls).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        A second variable in terms of gender has been activities. Activity levels
of characters were coded as passive, moderate, or active, based on Verna's
study (Verna, 1975). Passive behavior was defined as little or no physical
movement. Examples included standing in front of a table talking with
someone and reading books. Moderate behavior was neither excessively active
nor passive, while active behavior involved a great deal of physical
movement. Further, the category was coded by type of activity in which the
boys and girls were engaged. These were pre-tested and modified to fit the
sample of commercials. The categories of activities included:
        1. Play with a toy (e.g., Barbie dolls, a mini car, or video games)
        2. Eating (eating, drinking, chewing, etc.)
3. Athletic play (e.g., boxing, dancing, playing various ball games,
                            swimming, riding a bike, snow boarding, etc.)
        4. Productive, educational (e.g., making cookies, painting and reading)
        5. Other (e.g., shopping or no dominant activity)

        Research also has consistently found that the types of interactions
portrayed are stereotypical. Thus, the dominant type of interaction was
determined by using the coding approach as in Verna and Larson's studies
(Verna, 1975; Larson, 2001). Interactions were categorized as:
1.      Independent (e.g., single child in an ad, not interacting with anyone)
2.      Cooperative (e.g., working, playing together, action figure together)
3.      Competitive/Aggressive (e.g., playing to win)
4.      No dominant interaction (e.g., two or more children in a scene, but not
interacting with each other or no interaction could not considered dominant)

Next, another variable with regard to gender has been setting. Because
different activities often call for different settings, it is likely that
ad settings for boys and girls will not be the same. Smith (1994) asserted
that setting was the most stereotypical feature of the commercials
analyzed. Consistent with previous studies (Smith, 1994; Larson, 2001),
setting was coded as:
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
1.      Home (including indoors and outdoors. e.g., kitchen, bedroom, driveway,
back yard))
2.      Away form Home (e.g., warehouse, game room, race tracks, school, the
baseball field, and park)
3.      Fantasy (adventurous situations such as being inside a video game, a
fruit yogurt water slide)
4.      No dominant setting (ads could often be with many scenes in many places,
or several settings of approximately equal duration)

Ads also were categorized according to product: Toy (e.g., dolls, action
figures, games); Food (e.g., cereals, candy, beverages, and restaurant
chains); Clothing and Accessories; Entertainment (e.g., movies); and Other
(e.g., medicine, educational materials).
Finally, the gender of each narrator's voices was coded as male, female, or
both male and female.  Macklin and Kolbe (1984) found that the audio for
ads featured predominantly male voices. A more recent study by Smith (1994)
found the sexes of narrators' voices would correspond to the gender
positioning of the advertisements. Further, based on related studies of
audio track (Welch, et al., 1979; Verna, 1975; Macklin and Kolbe, 1984),
the sound of audio track was also coded as soft, moderate, or upbeat.
        Assessments of inter-coder reliability were made by the two judges, who
are graduate students in a midwestern college of communication. Inter-coder
reliability for each variable was determined as the percentage of agreement
between the judges. Inter-coder agreement was at least 80 percent for all
variables. Overall, 88.7 percent agreement was achieved, exceeding the
critical level of 80 percent, as suggested by Perreault and Leigh (1989).

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        In the Saturday- and Sunday-morning messages targeted toward children, a
total of 212 commercials were coded. Included were 192 ads for the United
States, and 184 ads for South Korea. Excluding repeats of the same
commercial, 109 U. S. and 103 South Korean ads were analyzed. Differences
between American and Korean advertisements were tested using a chi square
test of association. The overall results are summarized in through Table I
to Table VI.

Ad dominance
As shown in Table I, most of the advertisements coded in terms of ad
orientation were judged to be aimed at both boys and girls (86.2% in USA,
88.3% in Korea). If one sex was singled out as the primary target group,
this was more slightly likely to be boys (8.3% in USA, 6.8% in Korea) than
girls (5.5% in USA, 4.9% in Korea), though the differences were not
statistically significant.
A consideration in discussing gender portrayals is extent to which boys or
girls were alone or were dominant in given commercials. In general, this
analysis revealed both similarities and differences between the two
nations. As Table I shows, nearly 40 % of the characters were boys only in
both nations (39.4% in USA, 37.9% in Korea). However, differences
concerning dominant characters were found in the proportion of girls-only
characters between the two countries (15.6% in USA, 30.1% in Korea).
In particular, of the 60 U.S. commercials featuring only single-gender
characters, 43 (72%) featured boys only and 17 (28%) girls only. In
contrast, of the 70 Korean commercials featuring only single-gender
characters, 39 (56%) featured boys only and 31 (44%) featured girls only.
Collapsing across country of commercial's origin, 63% of the characters
appeared to be boys only and 27% girls only. This finding generally
supports the expectation that commercials contained more boys-only figures
than girls-only figures in single-gender ads, based on previous studies
(Verna, 1975; Doolittle and Pepper, 1975; Macklin and Kolbe, 1983; Smith,
1994). In the sample of this study, however, girls-only figures appeared
more frequently in Korean ads than in American ads.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        This study also asked to what degree girls and boys are portrayed
together, assuming that boys and girls together represent a less
traditional portrayal of gender roles. In U.S. ads, 49 (45%) of the 109
commercials featured boys and girls together. This finding is consistent
with Larson (2001)'s result, which showed that nearly half of all
commercials in her sample portrayed girls and boys together. In Korea,
however, there is no significant difference in this variable; 39 (37.9%) of
the 103 commercials featured boy-only characters, 33 (32%) boys and girls
together, and 31 (30.1%) girls only.

Table I. Sex of Characters and Ad Orientation in USA and Korea Children's
TV ads
USA (N=109)
S. Korea (N=103)
Sex of Characters
49 (45.0%)
33 (32.0%)
82 (38.7%)
Boys Only
43 (39.4%)
39 (37.9%)
82 (38.7%)
Girls Only
17 (15.6%)
31 (30.1%)
48 (22.6%)
Ad Orientation
94 (86.2%)
91 (88.3%)
185 (87.3%)
9 (8.3%)
7 (6.8%)
  16 (7.53%)
6 (5.5%)
5 (4.9%)
  11 (5.17%)

        The dimension of active/passive behavior refers to the level of activity
displayed by the dominant characters in the ads. Table II indicated that
boys only (46.5% in USA, 53.8% in Korea) and neutral (boys and girls)
characters (49% in USA, 30.3% in Korea) appeared to be significantly more
active than girls-only characters. In the latter group, nearly 6% appeared
in active behaviors.  In Korean girls-only ads, however, girl figures were
more engaged in moderately active behaviors than in the U.S. (61.3% versus
29.4%), and less in passive behaviors (32.3% versus 64.7%). These
differences were statistically significant.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
        In terms of type of activity, 27.5% of U.S. commercials showed central
figures were engaged in "playing with toy," almost equal to 24.3% in Korea.
Eating behavior was found in 19.3% of those in the U.S., 26.2% with Korean
commercials. The chi-square statistic, however, indicated that there were
no definite overall differences between the types of activity depicted by
boys' and girls' characters in both American and Korean samples (see Table
The study only shows that boys were generally engaged in more active and
varied activities than girls. For example, considering "play with toy" ads
in the sample, boys usually played with mini forklift trucks, a model
plane, and basketball video games or in cyberspace, while girls-only
characters in these ads only played with dolls such as "Mermaid Barbie," or
"Teddy Bear." Further, only two Korean commercials included athletic play
by girls-only models, portraying girls with dancing. Boys engaged in some
athletic endeavor often with physically active play such as riding the snow
board, shooting baskets, climbing a mountain, or jumping and running.
There were no significantly different activities between boys and girls in
neutral ads; boys and girls both performed a wide variety of activities on
about an equal basis as a proportion of total action. The "other" category
(15.6% in USA, 24.3% in Korea) in Table II was not quite as large as Larson
(2001)'s result, which indicated 38.15% of activities were in the "other"
category. This category consisted of activities that were difficult to
group, such as shopping, playing instruments, or traveling.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea

Table II. Activities by Gender in USA and Korea Children's TV ads
USA (%)
S. Korea (%)
* USA: ?≤=24.693  P=.000  df=4, Korea: ?≤=19.891  P=.001  df=4
** USA: ?≤=7.865  P=.447  df=8, Korea: ?≤=12.492  P=.131  df=8

Another research question concerned the differences between boys and girls
as to the types of interactions which might indicate different
characteristics between masculine and feminine countries. The present
results showed statistically significant differences as type of interaction
based on the dominant character's sex. As shown in Table III, girls-only
ads in both nations featured mostly independent interaction (64.7% in USA,
90.3% in Korea), rather than cooperative and no-dominant interaction. This
finding contrasts with a recent content analysis (Larson, 2001) that found
girls-only commercials overwhelmingly featured cooperative interactions
(84.62%), rather than independent (5.98%) interactions.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Interestingly, only one of the 48 girls-only ads in the sample appeared
with competitive/aggressive interaction. Boys appeared in proportionally
more competitive/aggressive interaction (25.6% in USA, 35.9% in Korea) and
than girls.
When boys and girls were together, 67.3% in USA, and 45.5% in Korea
involved "no dominant" interaction. There were frequent occurrences of the
category "no dominant" interaction (41.3% in USA, 22.3% in Korea) of all
ads, which were typically coded in commercials with many scenes, so that no
interaction could be considered dominant. This is probably a function of
current production trends that feature much rapid "intercutting" of scenes
(Larson, 2001).  Further, one interesting thing was found in the "no
dominant" category. In Korean ads, a girl usually appeared with her father
or interacted with him. Further, boys or girls in Korean ads were often
depicted interacting with their families, especially with their parents,
whereas children were usually portrayed with their peers in American
children's commercials.

Table III. Interactions by Gender in USA and Korea Children's TV ads
USA (%)
S. Korea (%)
0( .0)
No dominant
* USA: ?≤=45.685  P=.000  df=6, Korea: ?≤=44.137  P=.000  df=6

Setting Locations
        The next research question concerned the setting in which boys and girls
were located. Table  showed that settings varied significantly with sex of
dominant characters. The findings of previous studies by Smith (1994) and
Larson (2001), suggested that for boys-oriented ads, the most typical
setting was out-of-home. Here also, boys were more often placed "away from
home" (41.9% in USA, 48.7% in Korea) than in the home (34.9% in USA, 25.6%
in Korea) settings. This study showed that the settings for girls-only
characters still remained in the home (52.9% in USA, 54.8% in Korea): only
13 out of the total 48 settings in which girls were located were in
out-of-home settings. Compared to the USA sample, the Korea sample had a
higher proportion in each category presented above. This result is
consistent with the previous analyses which found that girls-only
commercials featured far more limited out-of-home settings.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Almost forty percent of the commercials in which boys and girls were
together featured an identifiable setting away from home. The category of
fantasy settings showed a difference between two nations. The U.S. fantasy
settings were placed more often in girls-only ads (17.6%) than in boys-only
ads (7.0%), while the Korean sample showed fantasy settings appeared
slightly but not significantly more often in boys-only ads (10.3%) than in
girls-only ads (9.7%). This data here Korea samples concur surprisinly with
the previous U.S. findings (Smith, 1994; Larson, 2001).

Table IV. Settings by Gender in USA and Korea Children's TV ads
USA (%)
S. Korea (%)
Away From Home
No dominant
  0( .0)
* USA: ?≤=16.898  P=.010  df=6, Korea: ?≤=14.565  P=.024  df=6

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea

Types of Products
        Table V revealed a significant relationship between the types of products
advertised and the presence of girls only, boys only or boys and girls
together. The largest product category for either girls or boys was foods
in both nations (59.6% in USA, 46.6% in Korea). Toys were also an often
advertised product in the sample. Boys-only models appeared as more
dominant (61.5% in USA, 58.3% in Korea) than girls-only models (15.4% in
USA, 33.3% in Korea) in toys ads from both two nations. In the "other"
category, the U.S. sample mostly contained commercials for medicine and
personal goods while the Korea sample dominantly showed commercials for
educational materials.

Table V. Products by Gender in USA and Korea Children's TV ads
USA (%)
S. Korea (%)
0( .0)
  0( .0)
* USA: ?≤=18.343  P=.019  df=8, Korea: ?≤=7.951  P=.438  df=8

Sex of Voice-overs
        This study also examined the sex differences of voice-overs in commercials
in which children are portrayed, and found statistically significant
differences as to the sex of narrators' voices. Probably the most
surprising difference in gender portrayals between the nations was found
with this variable.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Consistent with the findings of the previous studies of U.S. commercials
(Verna, 1974; Welch, et al, 1979; Smith 1994), Male voice-overs were
predominant in the U.S. sample (71.6%) whereas in Korean commercials over
half of voice-overs' were female (53.4%) (see Table VI-A).
While the two samples varied as to sex of voice-overs, this corresponded to
the gender positioning of the ads in both nations. In line with previous
findings, the current results showed that male narrations, both singing and
talking, were predominant in boys-only commercials (93.0% in USA, 51.3% in
Korea), whereas girls-only ads primarily used female narrations (52.9% in
USA, 67.7% in Korea). The narrators in U.S. neutral commercials were
predominantly male voice-overs (67.3% in USA), while in Korea neutral
commercials, female voice-overs were fairly dominant (51.5% in Korea).

Mood of Audio Track
        Table VI-B supports the proposition that audio for girls-only ads was
generally quieter and softer in background music than for either neutral or
boys-only ads in both nations. The current findings squared with those of
Verna (1974) and Welch, et al (1979). Of boys-only ads, over half had an
upbeat and loud audio track. In contrast, with girls-only ads, 52.9% in the
U.S., and 35.5% in Korea had soft and quiet audio tracks. Of the neutral
ads, the Korea sample used mostly moderate audio sounds (63.6%), while the
U.S. sample showed many upbeat audio tracks (53.1%).

Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Table VI. Sex of Voice-overs and Mood of Audio Track
                 by Gender in USA and Korea Children's TV ads
USA (%)
S. Korea (%)
A. Voice-
B. Audio
* USA: ?≤=32.159  P=.000  df=4, Korea: ?≤=26.556  P=.000  df=4
** USA: ?≤=24.303  P=.000  df=4, Korea: ?≤=20.964  P=.000  df=4

        The purpose of this study was to explore differences in gender
portrayals in children's television advertising between the United States
and South Korea. A comparison of the findings from the present content
analysis with previous studies suggests a few changes in sex-role
stereotyping in children's television advertising and presents differences
between the two countries.
The present findings indicate that boys and girls are portrayed in
different ways in contemporary advertising both in the United States and
South Korea, and that these differences continue to follow conventional
stereotypes of the sexes in the West. As expected, overall boy's characters
were more frequently used and engaged in physically active behavior at
out-of-home settings with upbeat and loud background music, while girl's
characters appeared mostly engaged in passive activities at the home
setting with soft and quiet audio track in the samples of both two nations.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Boys' activities that appeared in the "other" category, for example,
contained the most anti-social behavior such as messing up one's room or
annoying one's sister. Predominant actions of the girls-only models in the
same category were shopping, cleaning their nails, brushing their hair and
caring for as well as decorating "Barbie's dog." Although girls performed
some physical activities with boys at the same frequency as boys did in the
neutral (boys and girls) ads, no ads showing physically active behaviors
used girls exclusively.
In light of cultivation theory, these results also demonstrate that viewers
may have cultivated expectations that girls have been more passive and less
engaged in physically active play. Also, these portrayals may help to
develop viewer's expectations that it is natural for girls to behave
themselves and follow the traditional stereotypes of gender roles.
As a result, the current findings support the first hypothesis; commercials
on South Korean television are consistent with traditional gender
stereotypes as much as those appearing on American television. Further,
masculine countries are more likely to embrace a sharp distinction between
the roles of men and women, whereas feminine ones are not (Moon and Chan,
2002). Contrary to the index of Masculinity in Hofstede's cultural
analysis, however, significant sex-role differences between boys and girls
characters of both nations suggest that South Korea as well as the United
States can be considered a masculine society. Hofstede (2001) seems to have
been off base.
Regarding ad dominance in terms of ad orientations, the majority of ads
were neutral oriented, with male- and female-oriented ads accounting for a
small part of the sample of each nation. In the neutral ads, the majority
of dominant characters were boys and girls together. Also girls-only
characters appeared in contrast with Smith's findings: Not a single
"neutral" product featured in only a girl character (Smith, 1994). Further,
in terms of the gender of dominant characters in the ads, the current
results showed that boys and girls characters appeared together (45% in
USA, 32% in Korea) more often than in previous studies. This result
indicates reversal of a previous trend in which boys-dominant ads were
predominant in children's advertising. The situation seems to have improved
for girls in both nations. Based on social learning theory, girls have as
many role models portrayed in commercials as boys do.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
Moreover, the types of interaction in the sample of both nations showed the
most obvious sign of non-stereotypic behavior in this study. Girls were
usually portrayed independently, showing they can do by themselves without
cooperative helps of others. Girls seemingly could be satisfied with
self-fulfillment, not from fulfilling the needs of another. The current
findings contrast with earlier content analyses that found girls-only
characters have been generally depicted as submissive and dependent on
others, reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes (Browne, 1998). Further,
girls were often depicted with boys cooperatively and competitively rather
than subordinately in neutral ads which featured boys and girls together.
This may be interpreted positively because girls performed on a par with
boys in the sample.
This recent tendency to increase the proportion of girls' characters and
their independent interaction in the samples of both nations supports the
second hypothesis, which is that gender portrayals in TV commercials of the
United States and Korea have less stereotyped content than had been
indicated by previous research.
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
However, despite the similarities between the United States and South
Korean samples shown above, significant differences in proportion of girl
characters and female voice-overs were found. Korean commercials tended to
contain more nearly equal proportions in boys-to-girls ratios than did the
U.S. The Korean ads more frequently used girls-only models (30.1%) than the
U.S. ads (15.6%), and predominantly adopted female voice-overs (53.4%
versus 15.6%) in the samples.
One explanation is that Korean society is changing in terms of women's
issues and rights. A woman in Korea could afford to focus on herself and
her social experiences attained through education and employment, enabling
her to become more self-aware (Park, 2001). Consequently, there are more
interest groups now than in the past for women and more women's
participation in the workplace and social groups. In addition, important
changes in the global context have included a new consciousness of women's
individual rights arising from the sexual revolution (Park, 2001).
Therefore, relatively recent attention to women's issues in Korea may
create greater sensitivity to the issue of stereotyping in advertising
(Moon and Chan, 2002). Thus, commercials on Korean television might contain
lower levels of stereotyping.
Another difference between two countries had to do with of the types of
products advertised. The "other" miscellaneous category, for example,
showed the different type of products in both nations: Korean ads mostly
advertised educational materials such as daily study books or software
available for self-study using the Internet, while U.S. ads included
medicine or personal goods such as a body cleanser.
This phenomenon could be interpreted in the Korean cultural context in
terms of education. As explained in the Introduction, Korean parents'
enthusiasm for their children's education has risen sharply. In a country
where a good education is highly prized, and getting into the right school
and the right university is essential to a good career, fear of failure is
endemic (Times Educational Supplement, 1999). This particular value in
Korea seems to be reflected in Korean commercials presentation of cultural
artifacts. Thus, in order to analyze advertising as a manifestation of
culture at a broad level, it must be understood that culture is expressed
in several ways (de Mooij, 1998).
Gender Role Stereotyping in Children's TV Ads: USA and Korea
In light of this perspective, further studies need to explore how the
content of children's advertising describes cultural, economic and social
factors. It is important to identify the underlying reasons for the
differing means of expression in the content, based on cultural, economic
and social conditions. This seems worthwhile for international advertisers
to approach youth markets, including young children (Ji and McNeal, 2001).
        Moreover, this content analysis is based primarily on a classification
schema that was developed and tested in the United States. There is a
question of whether the use of Western-derived scales appropriately
captures the cultural aspects of Eastern communications in children's
television advertising. Further inquiries are needed to monitor trends,
with broad units of measurements and precisely standardized dimensions of
sex role stereotyping in television commercials aimed at children.


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