Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Gender matters? The effects of instructor gender on perceptions of do-it-yourself-tutorials

Student Researcher(s)

Yiting Chai (Masters Candidate); Weng Ee Then (Ph.D Candidate); Stephanie Winkler (Ph.D Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

This paper was based on a project as part of the COM506 course.

 

INTRODUCTION
Do-it-yourself culture started gaining significant prominence in the mid-2000s as to the Internet became the new normal. The culture surrounding do-it-yourself can be identity enhancing for the individual as well as empowering as they learn to perform tasks that originally would have be reserved for a professional. While this culture can be empowering it has the potential to perpetuate gender stereotypes since previous research has shown that individuals perceive instructors as more credible when their gender is consistent with the perceived gender of the task. In addition, tutorials with consistency between the perceived gender of the task and the gender of the instructor could be seen as more useful than tutorials without this consistency.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
RQ1: For the general population, controlling for age and education level, what is the relationship between the types of gender cues in the DIY tutorial and perceived credibility of the instructor?
RQ2: For the general population, controlling for age and education level, what is the relationship between the types of gender cues in the DIY tutorial and perceived usefulness of the tutorial?

H1a: Participants will perceive the female instructor as more credible when the tutorial theme is more feminine. 
H1b: Participants will perceive the male instructor as more credible when the tutorial theme is more masculine.
H2a: Participants will perceive the tutorial with the female instructor as more useful when the tutorial theme is more feminine. 
H2b: Participants will perceive the tutorial with male instructor as more useful when the tutorial theme is more masculine.
H3a: Participants who watch the no gender cues tutorials are more likely to perceive the instructor of the masculine task as a male compared to the feminine task.
H3b: Participants who watch the no gender cues tutorials are more likely to perceive the instructor of the feminine task as a female compared to the masculine task.

 

METHOD
A 2 (tutorial theme) x 3 (gender cue) between-subject experimental design was conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants were randomly assigned to watch 1 of 6 tutorial conditions. The six conditions were: 1) hard-drive replacement tutorial theme with no gender cue, 2) hard-drive replacement tutorial theme with male gender cue, 3) hard-drive replacement tutorial theme with female gender cue, 4) knitting tutorial theme with no gender cue, 5) knitting tutorial theme with male gender cue, and 6) knitting tutorial theme with female gender cue. Once the participants finished watching the tutorial condition, they were then directed to complete a questionnaire measuring perceived credibility of the instructor and perceived usefulness of the tutorial.

 

RESULTS
A factorial ANOVA was conducted to examine hypotheses 1 and 2. Neither hypothesis was not supported. A Chi-square was conducted to analyze hypothesis 3 and the result was significant for the hard-drive condition (χ2 = 4.09, df = 2, p < .12) and knitting condition (χ2 = 4.09, df = 2, p < .12). Hypothesis 3 was supported. In addition, participants viewed the tutorials with no gender cues as less credible and less useful than the tutorials with gender cues. There was a main effect regarding gender cues and credibility of the instructor. We further examined this to see if this result was due to the gender cues, or due to the modality of the tutorial. After conducting a two-tailed t-test, the result was significant (t = 2.27, df = 72, p < .02).

 

CONCLUSIONS/DISCUSSION

We found that participants had a gender stereotype in place for both of the content types used in the study (H3).  However, it appears that even though these stereotypes were present, they did not impact the credibility of the instructor or the perceived usefulness of the tutorial (H1 & H2). The lack of support of our first two hypothesis (H1 & H2), while still having support for our third (H3), could be explained by the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). Participants who watched the stimuli containing no gender cues most likely processed the information through the peripheral route. However, those that watched the stimuli with a gender cue processed the information through the central route, which allowed them to bypass the gender stereotypes. In addition, the significant result on the modality of the tutorial can be explained using media richness theory. Since the video tutorials with gender cues would be considered a richer medium, they are more suited towards instruction of unfamiliar material.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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