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Do Animated Disney Characters Portray and Promote the Beauty–Goodness Stereotype?

Psych118 Presentation
by

Ainah Aevia

on 25 November 2012

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Transcript of Do Animated Disney Characters Portray and Promote the Beauty–Goodness Stereotype?

Do Animated Disney Characters Portray and Promote the
Beauty–Goodness Stereotype? A Study by Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D Stereotypes are generalizations, or assumptions, that people make about the characteristics of all members of a group, based on an image (often wrong) about what people in that group are like. Defining Stereotype In Study 1, human characters in 21 films were rated on attractiveness, goodness, and character outcome. Methods Disney characters have commonly been cited in social psychological literature as evidence of the stereotype known as “what is beautiful is good”. Disney Characters Smith, McIntosh, & Bassini (1999) have found that adults also typically rate attractive peers more positively. Related Studies “...a fixed, over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people.” - Cardwell, 1996 Presence of stereotypes in the society BEAUTIFUL and GOOD UGLY and WICKED VS. - symbols of physical flawlessness
-display of wholesomeness and virtuosity
- petite waistline
-perfectly proportioned facial structures
-skin-tight, skin-baring garments, and voluptuous curves that attract members of the opposite sex Female Protagonists: In Study 2, 42 children (ages 6–12) were exposed to either a high or low beauty-biased film and then rated target peers. Results 1st Study: Attractiveness of a character was a significant predictor of the character’s portrayal. As ratings of beauty increased, so did ratings of friendliness, goodness, intelligence, favorability of the character’s outcome and romantic involvement. All correlations with physical attraction were positive, except for aggressiveness. Regardless of what the children had watched, they rated attractive children more favorably than unattractive children. 2nd Study: Ramsey and Langlois (2002) have demonstrated the propensity of children to report attractive female characters as displaying positive traits even when that is not accurate within a story. Even infants as young as 2-8 months old demonstrate a preference for attractive women over unattractive women (Langlois, et. al 1987). Related Stories My daughter (kindergarten) has been infatuated with Disney princesses since she was 3, and she’s also now showing some early concerns with her body image. It’s important to her to “look pretty,” or “look cute.” She’s said things like, “Those sneakers make my feet look fat.” "My 3-year-old daughter began refusing to do or wear things that princesses didn’t do or wear. She had stopped running and jumping because princesses didn’t do those things. That was about the time I stopped waiting for the phase to pass — when she stopped running." In contrast, evil is linked more readily to obesity, cruelty, and general unattractiveness. “They were strong and bold, yet loving and kind and all put the needs of their family first. Mulan, Ariel and Jasmine all stood up for what they believed in. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ shows that we must look beyond what our eyes see. Belle looked beyond the outward appearance of the Beast and found love. “Tangled" was a feel good movie in which a young girl found her inner strength and in doing so reunited her family.” The Disney movies are giving out a happy message and that no matter what obstacles life brings you, you will have a happy ending. Most princesses need to be “saved” by a prince, where most princesses don’t feel complete without a prince. IMPLICATIONS The results of the study indicate that the "beauty is good" bias is already present in children, even in children as young as 6. Given that media portrayals like those in the animated movies of Walt Disney often reinforce societal stereotypes related to gender, ethnicity, and culture, parents may consider a more thoughtful approach to the use of television and videos. By watching Disney movies, children may be influenced by the characters’ act and behaviours and tend to act like them. “If a young girl doesn’t have a reminder that these fairytales are just that, fairytales, then she may grow up believing that her happily ever after is only attainable through a prince charming or a tiara on her head.” - Mary Finucane Disney Characters: Then & Now 1935 2012 2000 Conclusion Children’s knowledge and use of the physical attractiveness stereotype has been well-documented in the developmental literature.

Children learn the stereotype quite early seeing that examples of the stereotype are reflected in children’s books and television.

Whether or not exposure to Disney movies affect children's perception, it it important to note that the biggest influence at this age about how they perceive themselves and the world come from significant others.
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