Self-presentation in personal advertisements

The influence of implicit notions of attraction and role expectations

Richard Koestner*, Ladd Wheeler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heterosexual personal advertisements from two geographically separated, local, weekly newspapers were content-analyzed. Three significant patterns of findings emerged which shed light on gender differences in self-presentational style. First, women were found to be relatively more likely to offer instrumental or ‘male-valued’ traits in their ads and to seek expressive or ‘female-valued’ ones, while men showed the reverse pattern. This paradoxical finding was interpreted to reflect the influence of implicit notions of attraction and role expectations. Second, women were relatively more likely to offer weight and to seek height, while men were relatively more likely to offer height and to seek weight. This pattern was interpreted to reflect the influence of the ‘male-taller-norm’ in mate selection as well as a societal bias toward thinness in women. Finally, as in previous studies of this sort, women were found to be relatively more likely to offer physical attractiveness and to seek professional status, while men were relatively more likely to offer professional status and to seek attractiveness. This pattern was interpreted to be consistent with traditional sex-role expectations wherein appearance is stressed for women and status for men. Overall, the findings show that advertisers exhibit an understanding of implicit theories of attraction: men and women tend to offer precisely those attributes which are sought by the opposite sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

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