Study: Men's Mags May Be Bad For Men


What do Fortune, Wired and Field & Stream have in common? They’re all read mostly by men, and contain large numbers of ads that may contribute to “hyper-masculinity,” leading to “troubling behavior in young men,” according to a new study just published in Sex Roles, an academic journal. 

The researchers, led by Megan Vokey, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Manitoba, tracked advertising in eight magazines with a primarily male audience, scoring each ad on four components: Toughness, violence, dangerousness and callous attitudes toward women and sex. The authors found that these “hyper-masculine depictions” were common in all titles, regardless of age or earnings.



At least one of these four attributes was found in 56% of the total sample, while in some magazines, it was as many as 90%. But titles aimed at younger, less affluent readers were more likely to contain such ads. Game Informer, Playboy and Maxim had the most; Fortune and Golf Digest the least.

Ads with either a sexual or violent tone were less common. “Masculine ideology valuing toughness and danger may be more accepted generally by men than are overt violence and callousness towards women and sex,” the authors say. Other studies have linked hyper-masculinity with such problems as “dangerous driving, drug use and violence towards women.”  

Increasingly, academic researchers are examining the impact ads can have on public health issues ranging from obesity to anorexia to binge drinking. Sometimes, as in the case of food marketing to children, the result has been stepped-up regulations.

Meanwhile, don’t expect many men’s mags to wade into the debate: Neither Field & Stream or Fortune responded to queries. And in an email, Wired VP and Publisher Howard Mittman told Marketing Daily, "we'd prefer not to comment on something designed to try to get us to comment."

6 comments about "Study: Men's Mags May Be Bad For Men".
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  1. Zachary Cochran from CPXi, March 4, 2013 at 4:09 p.m.

    IMHO—it's hard to make a case that Playboy is anything but "bad for men" and easy to make the case that it is definitely "bad for women."

  2. Henry Mohr from Real World Consulting, March 5, 2013 at 8:22 a.m.

    This man-hating author needs to chill out and listen to her own bias. I would like to see a similar study of primarily womens' publications. Certainly there are many with "dangerous or callous attitudes" towards men.What a waste of research and nothing more than an very poor attempt to trash men for being men and not feminized metrosexuals. Cheeez.

  3. Erik Sass from none, March 5, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.

    So a female journalist is "man-hating" for summarizing the results of an academic study? Where is the alleged bias in the article? I don't see anything in the article giving ads in women's mags a pass; the study was about men's magazines, so that's what she wrote about it. Give me a break.

  4. Adam Smith from Consultant, March 5, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.

    So I'm writing this from the perspective of a man who volunteers for a women's workforce advocacy group and female entrepreneurship meetup. I would have to ask: How do the researchers define "toughness, violence, and dangerousness"?

    By the way, how are Field & Stream and Fortune "Men's mags"? How then did Marissa Mayer end up on the cover of Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women" issue last year?

  5. CJ Lengua from [x+1], March 6, 2013 at 9:40 a.m.

    All this study does is shine a light on male-targeted mass advertising in the way we've been looking at female-targeted advertising for years.

    Unless I'm mistaken, it's been fairly well established that a considerable amount of media & advertising targeted to women portrays "ideals" that can harm (especially young) women's self esteem.

    If we didn't already realize it, now we see that some media & advertising targeted at men can also influence their (our) behaviors and attitudes. Nothing surprising, man-hating, or anything of the sort here.

  6. Sarah Mahoney from self employed, March 6, 2013 at 10:02 a.m.

    Hi Adam--just FYI, these researchers defined "men's mags" as those with a predominantly male readership, not content.

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