Counteracting indirect influence : the responses of single Chinese women to prejudicial media portrayals of single womanhood

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-231
Journal / PublicationChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Online published22 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


Despite the increasing proportion of marriageable females who are single, the mass media still relegate unmarried womanhood to a stereotypical, second-tier life trajectory, which contrasts the ideal of happiness and fulfillment provided by marriage. The study explores single women’s responses to the media’s stereotyping of single womanhood. Drawing on the third-person effect framework, the study uses data gathered from survey of single women in urban China to examine how they perceived stereotyped media message as influencing both themselves and two important stakeholders in marriage choices (parents and unmarried peers). The results revealed significant third-person perceptions in judging the perceived influences of a prejudicial advertisement for a matchmaking service. The third-person effect appeared to be larger when unmarried peers were picked as the reference group for single women with higher education levels and for single women from families scoring high in conformity communication orientation and low in conversation orientation. The behavioral component of third-person perceptions was more aligned with the influence of the presumed effect, which suggests that single women counteracted because they were concerned with the negative effects of media on parents and peers.

Research Area(s)

  • single women, third-person effects, gender stereotypes, family communication pattern, China