Psi High Newsletter


October, 2011 

Volume 36, No. 1 


Are Internet search engine results sexist?

Gender differences appear in image searches 


In traditional print media, such as newspapers and magazines, writers and editors determine the content. Search engine results on the Internet are different. Although there are a variety of influences on the rankings of items in an Internet search, popularity of an item is a major determinant of its ranking. In most cases, items near the top of any search are there because they are popular among Internet users.  


Shippensburg University graduate students Emma Harrigan and Daniel Davis, along with their Psychology faculty sponsor Dr. Scott Madey, wondered whether user-influenced priority would result in differences regarding the kinds of images that appear in searches for top male and top female athletes. In a study entitled, “Portrayal of Male and Female Athletes on Google’s Image Search Engine: An Examination of Gender Differences,” the researchers examined the first 50 search-engine-generated images for each of the top 20 male athletes and the top 20 female athletes identified at the Sports Illustrated website. The investigators found that compared to the men, the women were significantly more likely to be attired in only underwear, dressed in street clothes, or seen in formal wear. 


In another part of the study, investigators asked undergraduate students to examine 25 images for each of the top-ten male and top-ten female athletes identified by Sports Illustrated. One of the students’ tasks was to judge whether the amount of skin portrayed in the image was more than would have been seen if the person had been wearing her or his athletic uniform.  Student ratings for the amount of skin revealed indicated dramatic differences, with the women judged to be showing much more skin than the men. 


You or your students could conduct a similar investigation. (The researchers had the Google SafeSearch filter on “moderate.”) Like this study, such a project would probably find gender-related stereotyping linked to the popularity of Internet images. 


Is academic confidence linked to attitudes about women?

In undergraduate women the two often occur together 


 Academic self-efficacy is confidence in one’s ability to accomplish school-related tasks. In women college students, is such confidence related to endorsement of beliefs that support and foster the equality, development, and connection of women in general? That is a question investigated by Shippensburg University undergraduate Angela Darosh and Psychology professor Dr. Kim Weikel in their study entitled, “Association Between Feminism and Academic Self-Efficacy.” The authors presented their study, based on Ms. Darosh’s Psychology Honors Thesis, at the March, 2011 meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  


For their investigation, Darosh and Weikel recruited 34 women college students and asked them to take the Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (ASES) and the Liberal Feminist Attitude and Ideology Scale (LFAIS). The ASES asks respondents to rate how well they do on the following eight dimensions: scheduling time to complete academic tasks, knowing how to take notes in class, knowing how to study for tests, writing papers, fulfilling the role of student, succeeding on academic tasks, being interested in academic tasks, and doing well in school. The researchers found significant positive correlations between academic self-efficacy and the following three LFAIS subscales: gender roles, global goals, and sisterhood. The gender roles subscale focuses primarily on belief in equal duties and responsibilities among wives and husbands. The global goals subscale concentrates on women having equal opportunities and value to men, including equal access to societal roles such as holding public office, being a leader, and having a good job. The sisterhood subscale measures the degree to which the respondent believes she faces issues and risks that are similar to what other women confront. 


Darosh and Weikel suggest that there could be practical applications for their findings. They believe that academic self-efficacy in women might be increased by encouraging them to be committed to equality in gender and societal roles, and to feel a connection with other women. 


How do men and women deal with information relevant to relationships?

Their styles may differ 


In romantic relationships, do men and women differ in how much relationship-related information they tend to seek and give? That is one question investigated by Shippensburg University undergraduates Addalena Virtus, Emma Wetzel, and Racheal Bevilacqua, along with their advisor Dr. Angela Bartoli, in a study entitled, “Feedback Seeking and Giving in Relationships.” The investigators presented their findings in Cambridge, Massachusetts during March, 2011, at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. 


The researchers constructed a survey that asked participants to answer items in terms of what they generally do in romantic relationships. One section included questions that focused on what respondents said that actually did with regard to giving and seeking feedback in relationships. Forty-seven male and 71 female college students took the survey. Analysis of the results indicated that the women reported giving and seeking significantly more feedback than the men.  


The findings suggest that women tend to be more comfortable openly discussing relationship issues. Consequently, one’s degree of comfort or discomfort in addressing a topic may need to be recognized and respected in order for relationship-centered discussions to be most productive.  


Where can you read other newsletters?


You can access other issues on the Internet.

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Editor: Kenneth France, Ph.D. 
The Psi High Newsletter  
is published for teachers of  
high school psychology by 
Shippensburg University. 

Contributions are encouraged 
and welcomed. 
Please submit material to the editor. 

Department of Psychology 
Shippensburg University 
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