School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)


Wesley Hartley


Super Bowl commercials, gender roles, gender stereotypes, qualitative method, content analysis, longitudinal design, TV advertising, mirror versus the mold argument, social learning theory, cultivation theory, sociocultural tradition




Although numerous studies have examined gender stereotypes in advertising, relatively few have investigated the communication of gender roles in Super Bowl commercials. The Super Bowl attracts the largest televised audience in the United States; thus, it holds the power to shape, influence, and reinforce attitudes and beliefs. Through a sociocultural lens, this qualitative study examines the communication of gender roles in Super Bowl commercials across a 10-year period from 2013 to 2022. Utilizing a longitudinal content analysis design, 279 Super Bowl advertisements from 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022 were analyzed. The problem addressed is how the depiction of gender roles in Super Bowl commercials has changed over the past decade. The purpose of this qualitative longitudinal content analysis is to understand and explore how gender roles have changed in Super Bowl commercials from 2013 to 2022. Four research questions guided the study in which seven primary themes and 12 subthemes emerged. Key results include shifts in sexuality, role types, and product categories. Although many shifts occurred to varying degrees, traditional couples and family units continue to be communicated through heterosexual narratives. A significant number of commercials utilize the role of celebrity, comedic appeal, and elements of competition regardless of product type. Theoretically, the mirror argument and the mold argument are both at play. Six suggestions for future research are presented.

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