Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Session 11: Gender and Identity
Thursday, 07/Sep/2017:
3:30pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Carina Weinmann
Location: Room CIV 160

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Identification with counter-stereotypic media characters and gender self-concepts: Exploring the role of non-hedonic entertainment experiences

Julia Rosita Winkler, Frank M Schneider

University of Mannheim, Germany

Fictional media characters participate in defining the range of possibilities, roles, and aspirations people see for themselves (Greenwood, 2017). Offering counter-stereotypic, instrumental role models to girls and women through entertainment media seems especially relevant in view of the ongoing underrepresentation of women in movies and television (e.g., Esch, 2011). Research consistently finds that in general, women tend to have less confidence in their capabilities than men (Syzmanowicz & Furnham, 2011), which has been suggested to explain representation of women across academic fields (Meyer, Cimpian, & Leslie, 2015). Therefore, increasing instrumentality self-perceptions (which include attributes like self-confidence or assertiveness) may be especially desirable for women.

Counter-stereotypic role models have been found to be able to boost ability beliefs of negatively stereotyped groups (e.g., Marx & Roman, 2002). Furthermore, research on the impact of stories on self-perceptions suggests that, at least temporarily, audiences sometimes even adapt traits that are central to a character or the story into self-concepts (e.g., Kaufman & Libby, 2012). Transportation into the narrative and identification with the media character have been proposed to enhance such spill-over effects (e.g., Richter, Appel, & Calio, 2014). However, under some circumstances, counter-stereotypic representations may prompt a threatening upward social comparison that negatively influences subjects’ self-perceptions (e.g., Rudman & Phelan, 2010). This research suggests that a counter-stereotypic female media character will be more likely to prompt assimilation of instrumental traits into self-concepts if the character embodies expressive traits that represent femininity as well. This may signal greater psychological closeness to a female role model and mitigate perceptions of unattainability and untypicality (Lockwood & Kunda, 1997; Heilman & Okimoto, 2007) and thereby foster identification with the character. Transportation is expected to moderate this effect.

Furthermore, this study explores the role of non-hedonic entertainment experiences in the relationship of gender self-concepts and narrative impact. On the one hand, appreciation has been suggested to be able to reduce the power of stereotypes by increasing one’s sense of self (e.g., Krämer et al., 2016; Oliver et al., 2015). However, it is not clear whether this may affect gender self-concepts as well.

An online experiment using a convenient sample of N=410 (female subsample: n=276) attempted to manipulate the degree of perceived expressiveness of an instrumental female media character and the degree of appreciation elicited by a video clip of the TV series The Good Wife. Even though the manipulation was unsuccessful, the study offers insights into the relationship of gender self-concepts of viewers, their involvement with a story featuring a counter-stereotypic media character, as well as hedonic and non-hedonic entertainment experiences.

There was no direct relationship between perceived expressiveness of the character and instrumental self-concepts, but identification was a significant mediator. Contrary to expectations, transportation did not moderate this effect. An interaction between appreciation and perceived expressiveness of the main character was detected: For low levels of expressiveness, high levels of appreciation were associated with lower levels of instrumental self-concepts compared to when appreciation was low. Possible explanations and directions for future research will be discussed.

Does Content Matter: Why Chinese Young Women Read Boy’s Love Stories?

Yanyan Zhou1, Bryant Paul1, Tuo Liu2

1Indiana Unviersity, United States of America; 2Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany

In China, Boy’s Love stories (BL stories) refer to a genre of romantic fictions which depict romantic relationships between males. Usually, these stories are written and frequently read by young heterosexual women. Previous focus groups and in-depth interviews have claimed that women are escaping from gender inequality in BL stories. However, a content analysis of Chinese BL stories has cast doubt on this explanation.

The current study has introduced several alternative explanations on why Chinese heterosexual women love reading and writing BL stories. It also uses an experiment to test these alternative explanations.

Gendered Online Hate on YouTube: A Content Analysis of User Comments on Fail Videos

M. Rohangis Mohseni, Nicola Doering

Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany

Introduction: Online hate has become a common concern. Based on Meibauer (2013, p.1), online hate can be defined as verbal expressions of hate in online settings, typically by using abusive terms that serve to denigrate, degrade, and threaten. In its gendered form online hate focuses on the gender of the target. Interacting with gendered online hate can amplify sexist attitudes and behaviors offline (Fox, Cruz, & Lee, 2005). Although the video platform YouTube is the second most visited website worldwide, research on gendered online hate on YouTube is scarce (e.g., Wotanis & McMillan, 2014).

Objective: This study investigated whether women depicted in fail videos on YouTube received more gendered online hate than men. This included hateful comments that a) denigrate the target's gender (sexist comment) or b) sexually objectifies or threatens the target (sexual / sexually aggressive comment).

Method: A quantitative content analysis of publicly available user comments within the popular YouTube channel “FailArmy” (more than 12 million channel subscribers, more than 3.6 billion video views) was conducted. The comments were sampled from five popular videos depicting male fails and five popular videos depicting female fails. Per video, the 100 most recent video comments were collected. The resulting N = 1,000 user comments were content analyzed regarding generally sexist (e.g., “Women fail at everything”) and sexual / sexually aggressive hate comments (e.g., “I just came here to fap [masturbate]”). The analysis was based on the codebook by Wotanis and McMillan (2014). A pretest with two independent coders revealed satisfactory reliability (Kappa_sexist = .73; Kappa_sexual = .53).

Results: Women in fail videos received significantly more generally sexist (Chi²(1) = 29.4, p < .001, V = .17) and more sexual / sexually aggressive (Chi²(1) = 46.0, p < .001, V = .22) hate comments than men.

Discussion: Results indicate that gendered online hate targeting women is an issue within the very popular YouTube genre of fail videos. However, the effect may have been reinforced by the channel's own sexism: By selection of video clips, design of thumbnails and video titles, the channel "Fail Army" depicts women in a more stereotypical and sexualized way than men. To gain more generalizable data on the prevalence of gendered hate on YouTube, future research should investigate additional fail channels as well as channels from other popular YouTube genres. Determinants of gendered YouTube hate (e.g., attributes of the video content and of the video audience) need to be investigated. Finally, implications for the prevention of gendered online hate need to be reflected.


Fox, J., Cruz, C., & Lee, J. Y. (2015). Perpetuating online sexism offline: Anonymity, interactivity, and the effects of sexist hashtags on social media. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 436-442. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.06.024

Meibauer, J. (2013). Hassrede - von der Sprache zur Politik. In J. Meibauer (Ed.), Hassrede/Hate speech. Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zu einer aktuellen Diskussion (pp. 1–16). Gießen: Gießener Elektronische Bibliothek.

Wotanis, L., & McMillan, L. (2014). Performing Gender on YouTube. Feminist Media Studies, 14(6), 912-928. doi:10.1080/14680777.2014.882373

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