Disney cartoons promote 'what-is-beautiful-is-good' stereotype

Washington, Jan 16 (ANI): Appalachian State University psychology professors have conducted a study in which they ask: "Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype?"

Doris Bazzini, Lisa Curtin and Denise Martz analysed the effect viewing an animated movie that portrays "beauty as good" has on children, male and female, ages 6 to 12.

They found that viewing a film with beautiful and morally virtuous characters ("Cinderella") did not significantly alter children's use of the stereotype, nor did viewing a movie that did not consistently depict the link between goodness and beauty among the characters ("Hunchback of Notre Dame").

Regardless of what the children had watched, they rated attractive children more favourably than unattractive children.

In fact, children as young as 6 had already developed a bias toward "beauty as good."

"Regardless of which movie was viewed, children expressed a preference for an attractive child as a friend (78 percent) over an unattractive child (22 percent). Thirty-six percent of the sample of children did not show a preference for either target. In no case did the movie type significantly alter friendship choice," the journal authors wrote.

Bazzini said, "Parents should be aware that their children are probably absorbing a message portrayed consistently that attractiveness and goodness go together."

She said, "Even though our study showed one film does not impact this stereotype dramatically, my personal opinion is that a steady diet of these movies is at least reinforcing a stereotype. We have to ask ourselves if we are fine with that. Maybe parents should be having a conversation with their children about these stereotypes."

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. (ANI)

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