Theoretical Framework: Gender Schema Theory

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Theoretical Framework

Media of all kinds proliferate gender depictions; a number of theoretical frameworks can be employed in analyzing such mediated representations and their effects. The two main theories that will be used in this evaluative content analysis are social cognitive theory and gender schema theory.

Social Cognitive Theory (AKA Social Learning Theory)

Social cognitive theory provides a framework that can be applied to understanding how exposure to mediated interactions - through video games, for example - can convey gender lessons to gamers, influencing their beliefs about gender roles and their own gender-related self-construction. From the perspective of this theoretic framework, media content serves as a source of “gender-linked
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A schema is a stored foundation of cognitive knowledge that represents information about a topic, a concept, or a particular stimulus, including its attributes and the relations among the attributes (Fiske and Linville 1980). According to gender schema theory, gendered characteristics are conserved and transmitted to other members of a culture via schemata (Bem, 1993). Children form schemata of what behaviours, attitudes, and clothing are appropriately masculine or feminine through their accumulated experiences (Wroblewski & Huston, 1987). That is, gender schema are informed by and, more or less, mirror sociocultural definitions of masculinity and femininity. These sociocultural standard are largely defined by media. As such, video games are a source of information that depict what traits are masculine and…show more content…
The above-presented information, however, is necessary to include to understand the effects of sex and gender depictions in video games. More Specifically, the effects of sex and gender depictions can be better understood and explained with an understanding of demographics. For example, observed hypersexualization of men would impact the self-efficacy of men to a greater capacity than it would women. Given the large pool of research demonstrating that negative portrayals of gender are associated with various negative results in both the attitudes and behaviours of both men and women (e.g. Dietz, 1998; Beasley and Standley, 2002), a critical question to ask is whether similar findings of the portrayals of men and women are observed in video games. This study will look at the manner in which human male and female characters are portrayed in video games, specifically video game covers. I hypothesize that female characters are more likely to be depicted in a hyper-sexualized fashion than male characters. My interest in studying this topic stems from a strong belief that video games capture and sustain societal gender stereotypes and are responsible, in part, for the gender socialization of individuals (Dill and Thill, 2007). As such, I will discuss the consequences of sexualized gender portrayals

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