Sunday, 11th December, 2011
Far from being harmless or ironic fun, lads' mags could be legitimising hostile sexist attitudes, according to new research.
Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey found that when presented with descriptions of women taken from lads' mags, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not distinguish the source of the quotes.
The research due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology also revealed that most men who took part identified themselves more with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
Psychologists presented men between the ages of 18 and 46 with a range of statements taken from magazines* and from convicted rapists, giving the men the source of the quotes in only some cases. Men identified more with the comments made by rapists than the quotes made in lads' mags, but when told which quotes were from lads' mags they identified more with these, despite some being incorrectly attributed and actually from rapists.
The researchers also asked a separate group of women and men aged between 19 and 30 to rank the quotes on how derogatory they were, and to try to identify the source of the quotes. Men and women rated the quotes from lads' mags as somewhat more derogatory, but generally couldn't categorise the quotes more accurately than if guessing.
Dr Miranda Horvath and Dr Peter Hegarty argue that lads' mags could normalise hostile sexism, by making it seem more acceptable when its source is a popular magazine.