Pokémon: Exploring the Role of Gender1

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In Study 1 college students (47 men, 104 women) watched Pokémon cartoons, and afterward they rated one of four trainers (persons who train creatures called Pokémon) on 28 characteristics. James, the male “bad” trainer, was rated lowest of four trainers on “masculine” traits including strength, assertiveness, certainty, and being a leader. Jesse, the female “bad” trainer, was rated as sexiest and most aggressive. In Study 2 sixty-two elementary school children (28 girls, 34 boys) were individually interviewed. Fewer than 50% of the children could name a female Pokémon, and participants were more likely to choose a boy than a girl as a favorite trainer. Male Pokémon and trainers may be more central to the cartoon, and counter-stereotypical gender portrayals may be one way to portray a “bad” character even more negatively.

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