Nav: Home

Teen series continue to feature stereotyped characters that perpetuate gender differences

April 09, 2019

A study has sought to identify and analyse adolescents' favourite kind of character in Spanish teen series. Teen series are fictional and feature characters that specifically target teenagers and a younger audience. The work by the researchers María José Masanet, of the Department of Communication at UPF, and Maddalena Fedele, of Ramon Llull University, was published in Palabra Clave in April.

To do so, the authors combined two studies, one on audiences carried out with 787 students of Barcelona focusing on the analysis of gender differences when choosing and evaluating teenage characters, and a qualitative study, focusing on the characters deemed the favourites of the teenagers surveyed in the first phase. They investigated the interaction between four variables: the viewer's sex (boy or girl); the sex of the character of the chosen series (male or female); the attributes that the respondents highlight when choosing a character (personality, physical appearance, intelligence, or others) and, finally, characteristics of the favourite characters.

The three teen series selected for the study were Física o química (2008-2011), Los protegidos (2010-2012) and El barco (2011-2013), all broadcast on the Antena 3 Spanish television channel. The researchers selected these series because they are teen series produced in Spain; they had high viewing numbers at the time the study was conducted; and they were the three favourite teen series of the young people of the sample at the time of the survey. The three teen series star teenagers and their plots present the usual dilemmas and concerns at this time of life, such as the search for identity, the first romance and sexual relationships, etc.

The results of the study show that the young respondents tend to choose and value the male and female teen series characters based on gender: firstly, both boys and girls to mostly choose male characters as their favourites; second, the male characters are chosen more because they are "rebels", "fun" and "bad but good deep down", while the female ones are chosen because they are "nice people" and "brave and determined".

The qualitative analysis of the characters confirms that the male characters are rebellious, while the female ones are responsible and attractive. Thus, Spanish teen series build a female sphere, associated with responsibility and sensitivity, and a male sphere, that is rebellious and manly.

Therefore, adolescent males identify with or have as a model a boy who is aggressive and a "bad guy", lacking in the emotional sphere and unable to communicate intimately within a couple relationship. By contrast, the girls are represented as responsible, sincere people who care about others -normally their partner-, etc., which attributes are highlighted by the audience that chooses them because they are "nice people".

In Masanet's opinion, "one worrying aspect from a gender perspective is the fact that "bad guy who is good deep down" constitutes an attractive model for girls and would thus concede the "romantic myth" that to love is to suffer, a myth that accepts conflict and suffering in the relationship."

The study also found riskier, albeit minority, female models

They are strong, independent girls wo live their sexuality freely, are self-confident or are fighters. And it is these same attributes that make them attractive to some of the teenagers and young adults who participated in the study and highlighted these characters' "self-assurance" and "courage and determination". Despite being in the minority, these characters occupy an important place in some series and adolescents value them.

As the authors say, "these results warn of the need to represent more plural, more complex characters that get away from the traditional stereotypes that end up perpetuating gender differences, as they are images that act on the perspectives and desires of adolescents and therefore on their models of emotional relationships".
-end-


Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona

Related Gender Differences Articles:

Gender-specific differences in the salivary microbiome of caries-active children
At the 97th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR), Stephanie Ortiz, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, USA, gave a poster presentation on 'Gender-specific Differences in the Salivary Microbiome of Caries-active Children.'
Teen series continue to feature stereotyped characters that perpetuate gender differences
A study has sought to identify and analyse adolescents' favourite kind of character in Spanish teen series.
Study identifies gender differences in reported adverse drug reactions
In a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study, investigators uncovered numerous gender differences in reports of adverse drug reactions sent to the National Pharmacovigilance Centre in the Netherlands.
Gender equality and economic development promote gender-specific preferences
The more equal women's opportunities compared to men's, and the more resources women have, the more their preferences differ from men's, suggests a new study based on survey data from nearly 80 countries.
Personality differences between the sexes are largest in the most gender equal countries
The self-rated personalities of men and women differ more in more gender equal countries, according to recent research from the University of Gothenburg, University West and the University of Skövde.
Sex after 65: Poll finds links to health, gender differences, lack of communication
A new poll busts stereotypes about the sex lives of older Americans -- and reveals gender and health-related divides on key aspects of sexual health, while highlighting the need for more people to talk with their health providers about sexual issues.
Study documents ethnic and gender differences in youths' developing gender identity
The extent to which youths feel typical of their gender and the pressure they feel to conform to traditional gender roles are related to adolescents' well-being.
Study reveals complex biology, gender differences, in kidney cancer
A new study is believed to be the first to describe the unique role of androgens in kidney cancer, and it suggests that a new approach to treatment, targeting the androgen receptor (AR), is worth further investigation.
New study from Harvard examines gender differences in obtaining first NIH research award
A study of more than 5,400 instructors and assistant professors at Harvard Medical School compared differences between males and females for receipt of their first National Institutes of Health research award.
Children at Swedish 'gender-neutral' preschools are less likely to gender-stereotype
A new study from Uppsala University in Sweden has indicated that the norm-conscious practices used by teachers at preschools termed 'gender-neutral' are associated with reductions in children's tendencies to make gender-stereotypical assumption.
More Gender Differences News and Gender Differences Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.