At least they have their clothes on...
Putting the Clutter Syndrome to the test: an investigation of women´s reactions and thoughts towards sexist advertising
The subject explored in this thesis is sexist advertisement and the aim was to investigate whether the theory of Clutter Syndrome, coined in my previous study (Balog, 2014), is relevant in this field of research. Even though sexism in ads has been studied for a long time, the amount of sexism and the type of overtly sexualized portrayals has not lessened. By putting the Clutter Syndrome to the test and investigating its possible merit in this field, another step towards understanding the intricacies and consequences of sexist ads was made. By describing the concepts of the Clutter Syndrome: desensitization, comparisons and bargaining, I intended to discover whether women surveyed were affected by it or not. This study was conducted using two surveys consisting of 32 ads in total, one survey depicting ads in a certain order (from “least” sexist to “worst”), and the other in the opposite order. There were in total 52 participants ranging between the ages of 20-‐35. 26 of them participated in the first survey (from “least” sexist to “worst”) named Group 1, and 26 in the second: Group 2. The questions used for each ad were both on scales from 1-‐10, and also in the form of comments, all reflecting the participants own thoughts and feelings on the matter, thus the method was hermeneutical with both qualitative and quantitative features. The theoretical framework included some background information regarding the field of sexist ads, and then went on to present and develop the theory of Clutter Syndrome. Previous theories regarding desensitization (Kilbourne 1999; Crase-‐Moritz 2002; Giffon Brooke 2003; Forde 2014; Tehseem & Riaz 2015) were included and further developed in the section regarding Clutter Syndrome. After analysing the empirics and assessing them against the theories presented, the research questions could be answered and the Clutter Syndrome confirmed. What I found were many instances of Clutter Syndrome in action: comments and ratings that reflected desensitization, comparisons and bargaining. It could also be concluded that the participants in Group 2 were even more affected and responded in somewhat different ways than Group 1.