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The Impact Of Advertising Exposure On The Gendered Perceptions Of Men With Mental Health Concerns

Journal of Consumer Marketing

Tianyi Li


Traditional masculinity ideologies dictate men should be tough, self-reliant and display restrictive emotionality. Men who seek mental health services, a behavior that typically involves expressing feelings and showing dependence, are often subject to stigma. The purpose of the study is to examine the gendered perceptions of men who seek help for mental health concerns, as well as how masculine advertisements moderate these perceptions. After viewing either masculine or control advertisements, participants read descriptions of men who sought help for psychological or physical symptoms and provided masculinity ratings in a task ostensibly unrelated to the advertisements. Across two experiments, participants perceived the male target who sought help for psychological symptoms, a behavior incongruent with the traditional masculinity ideologies, as less masculine than his counterpart seeking help for physical symptoms. Importantly, exposure to masculine advertisements attenuated the gendered perceptions for psychological help-seeking: viewing masculine advertisements led participants to deliberately reflect on society’s expectations for men to be physically masculine and tough and the extent to which men should conform to these standards.These reflections counteract the effect of stigma on the gendered perceptions of men seeking help for mental health concerns. The representation of men as masculine and rugged in advertisements is believed to contribute to public perceptions of men seeking help for mental health concerns. Yet the current research demonstrates an unexpected effect of viewing masculine advertisements in attenuating the gendered perceptions of men’s help-seeking.

Masculinity, Mental Health, Advertising, Gender Ideology, Medical Help-Seeking


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