Masculine men do not like feminine wording: the effectiveness of gendered wording in health promotion leaflets in the UK

Journal article


Baxter, K., Czarnecka, B., Schivinski, B. and Massaro, M. (2022). Masculine men do not like feminine wording: the effectiveness of gendered wording in health promotion leaflets in the UK. PLoS ONE. 17 (10), p. e0273927. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273927
AuthorsBaxter, K., Czarnecka, B., Schivinski, B. and Massaro, M.
Abstract

Following mixed-methods sequential design and drawing on the message-audience congruence concept and homophily theory, across three studies in the UK, we examined the effect of gendered wording and endorser’s gender on the effectiveness of leaflets promoting walking. In Study 1, a mall-intercept study achieved 247 completed questionnaires. Results demonstrated that men and women indicated the highest behavioural intentions for communal wording presented by a male endorser. However, pairwise comparisons revealed that when the wording of the advert was agentic and the endorser was male, males indicated significantly higher scores of behavioural intentions compared with females. Attitude towards the ad for women was highest for communal wording/female endorser; for men it was for agentic wording/male endorser. In Study 2, consumers’ views towards the gendered content were explored in 20 semi-structured interviews. In study 3 we examined the impact of the respondent’s gender role identity on gendered content effectiveness. Overall, when controlled for level of gender role identity, only masculine males evaluated leaflets featuring communal wording negatively which suggests that wording matters only for masculine males, but not for other men and women. Theoretically, we identified that gender-based message-respondent congruence is not a necessary aspect of communications to be effective, except for one group: masculine males. Our study identified dominant gender role identity as a factor that explained respondents’ preferences for presented stimuli. Specifically, males who display masculine gender role identity differ in evaluations of communal wording from all other groups. Social and commercial marketers who target men and women with exercise-related services should consider the use of agentic wording endorsed by a male endorser when targeting masculine men to increase the likelihood of eliciting positive attitudes towards the communication. However, such distinctions should not be associated with differences in women’s evaluations or men who do not report masculine gender role identity.

Keywordsgendered wording, endorser's gender, health communication, advertising and gender
Year2022
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal citation17 (10), p. e0273927
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN1932-6203
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273927
Publication dates
Print27 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Oct 2022
Deposited20 Oct 2022
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