Influence of gender stereotypes on advertising offensiveness and attitude toward advertising in general

Bruce A. Huhmann, Yam B. Limbu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Although considerable research has examined attitude toward advertising in general (AG), little is known about AG’s determinants. This study investigates gender stereotype-related constructs whose relationship with AG is understudied and unclear. Structural equation modeling demonstrates that attitude toward sex/nudity in advertising predicts AG indirectly through the perceived offensiveness of advertising. Also, the more consumers believe that advertising portrays gender stereotypes, the less favorable their AG. Multi-group analyses, however, demonstrate that offensiveness harms AG for men, but not women. Also, gender-stereotype attitudes harm AG for female and younger consumers, but do not harm AG for male or older consumers. These results have important implications for advertisers in message targeting and advertisement execution strategies. Also, because unfavorable AG increases demands for governmental oversight and interference, the advertising industry should strengthen self-regulation. This self-regulation should proscribe traditional gender stereotypes and excessively erotic ads that may offend consumers, even if those consumers are outside an advertiser’s target market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-863
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Advertising
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016


  • Advertising offensiveness
  • Attitude toward advertising in general
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Nudity in advertisements
  • Role portrayal inaccuracy
  • Sex appeals
  • Sexism


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