Female cartoon characters are making an impact on the way people eat, but it may not be for the better.
A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology has found that female characters are becoming more attractive and appealing to consumers, but the effect may not last.
The study, led by Jessica Fagan at the University of Texas at Austin, surveyed more than 100 women, ages 18 to 35, to determine whether the impact of female cartoon cartoon characters was a positive or negative one.
“There’s no question that cartoons are very important in our culture, but that they’re also incredibly influential on how we perceive ourselves,” Fagan said.
Fagan and her colleagues found that, overall, female characters were perceived as more attractive than male characters, even when they weren’t dressed in the same manner.
Women were more likely to consider a cartoon character as more likable and trustworthy than a man who was seen as less likable, according to the study.
The researchers also found that women tended to be more likely than men to report that the characters they liked were more likeable and trusted than those they disliked.
“It’s really important to understand that we are not just viewing the women as just more likability or more trustworthy,” Faggan said.
“We are looking at their actual behaviors.”
Fagan said that the study was also aimed at helping women understand how to best interact with cartoon characters.
“In the study, we were really interested in trying to understand why women are attracted to characters that are portrayed in the most positive light, whether that’s positive or not,” she said.
“What we’ve found is that these characters are really good at drawing women in the face, and that’s why they’re so appealing to women.”
The study also found women tended not to feel that the cartoon characters were trustworthy.
Women also were less likely to think that female cartoon character were good looking.
The research was done on a sample of nearly 100 women who were asked to complete a survey about the attractiveness of a male or female cartoon.
The researchers also asked the participants to rate the cartoon’s appearance, likability, trustworthiness, and attractiveness on a scale of one to five, with one being the least likable.
Faggan and her team found that the cartoons most liked by women tended also to be the ones most rated as trustworthy.
But, Fagan cautioned, the study also showed that women’s ratings of female characters varied based on how likable they were.
“For example, the cartoon character that had the highest rating was a female character that was less likability and less trustworthy than male character,” Faggan said.
In fact, the survey found that one of the most likable cartoon characters rated the least trustworthy was a male character that showed no signs of trustworthiness.
“That means that if a male cartoon character has an overall rating of one, but a female cartoon has an average rating of five, the female cartoon will feel less trustworthy and less likably, but she will still rate her character as a lot more likably than the male cartoon,” Faga said.
The findings of the study may help explain why women aren’t as interested in buying a new television set that features a cartoon male character.
“The reason that we’re not buying a TV set with a male superhero is because we feel less like they’re likable,” Fagin said.
That’s because they’re perceived as being less trustworthy.
Fagan said the research could help guide future efforts to create and promote female-friendly characters.
“If we can start to create female-positive characters that feel like they are likeable, they will be more appealing to females,” she added.
Fagarans findings suggest that female-oriented cartoons could also be good for business.
“We know that there’s a market for female characters, and there are some female-focused comic books that sell well,” Fagarans said.