The current study used a qualitative image analysis to explore observed interactional behaviors communicated through images printed in Cosmopolitan magazine during the calendar year of 2009 as a means to infer social values . Two general inquiries were used to guide the manner with which behavior was observed: is a heteronormative bias present and what values regarding the expressions of sexual orientation and gender identities can be inferred from these images. The sample consisted of 722 individual images depicting groups of two or more persons. Images were coded for group gender composition, activities engaged in, and physical touch . Results indicated a strong bias favoring heterosexual romantic/sexual intimacy and disfavoring homosexual romantic/sexual intimacy. The differences found between groups of womyn and groups of men suggest the expression of traditional hegemonic gender stereotypes in these image selections. Together, these findings suggest that traditional gender identities and heteronormative ideas were the dominant values communicated in these media image selections.


Image Analysis, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Heteronormativity, Magazine


This research was made possible thanks to funding from the University of Connecticut Office of Undergraduate Research.

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