Project for my Social Psych class last semester. This poster series was created to 1) challenge these internalized stereotypes by bringing them to the viewer’s attention and 2) expand the range of role models by including a diverse group of women. Each poster follows the same basic pattern: a woman who has demonstrated her competency in a particular area refutes the stereotype that appears above her in the form of “Girls can’t …”. While the posters target girls ranging from children to young adults, I expect the message would also cause people outside that demographic to question their own beliefs about women and power. I designed each aspect of the posters with several principles of social psychology in mind:
Peripheral route: When operating under the peripheral route, we judge persuasive appeal based on superficial characteristics such as attractiveness and credibility. I placed an attractive image of each woman over a black background, and the colors I chose complement each other well. I hand-lettered the main text to give each poster a sense of artistry, using an easy-to-read, official looking font as the basis for my work. Additionally, the women themselves are relatively well known. Their accomplishments, listed in the short blurb at the bottom of each poster, are impressive as well as irrefutable.
Relevance: We are more likely to be persuaded when we can relate the argument back to ourselves. These posters rely on the availability heuristic (since these stereotypes are readily available and common in society, media, and our own experiences) to establish an immediate relevancy. The statement at the top is attention grabbing by its controversial nature alone. However, it is also relevant to multiple groups, including but not limited to: 1) people who identify as girls, 2) people who have an opinion about girls, and 3) people who participate in the activity listed. I tried to include a wide range of activities (e.g., science, math, business, leadership, politics, athletics) and a diverse group of women (e.g., time period, nationality, ethnic background, age, area of expertise) to widen the range and appeal of the posters. The use of the term “we” also serves to compound the relevancy effect towards the main target audience by establishing in-group membership.
Central route: Because of the blatant use of stereotypes and the establishment of relevancy, the viewer now has a motivation to pay attention. Keeping the poster visually simple and limiting the biographical information helps by minimizing distractions. The QR code in the corner gives the viewer the means to access more information, if desired. Ideally, each QR code would link to the affiliated website (the URL would also be listed), but for now they link to relevant Wikipedia page.
Reactance and negative potency: Because we are less likely to change our minds when we feel like someone is trying to persuade us, I avoided mentioning the groups who held these stereotypes, so as not to alienate them, and did not use American political figures. I also did not attempt to convince girls to be more like the women portrayed. Additionally, because negative things are more potent than their positive counterparts, these posters run the risk of reinforcing the stereotype (“Girl’s can’t X”) rather than the counterargument (“Except we can”) or counterexample (the woman and her accomplishments). To minimize this, I placed the counterargument phrase in a speech bubble, portraying the woman as having a voice and worthy of our attention. I made the counterargument larger than any of the other text and placed it near the negative statement to provide an obvious, strong response. In some posters, the woman’s statement even breaks up the stereotype. I also colored the speech bubble and counterargument phrase, highlighting its difference from the preceding text as well as subtly raising its credibility through the color gold.
Attitude Inoculation: By exposing people to these stereotypes and providing notable counterexamples, these posters can potentially ‘vaccinate’ against the ubiquitous and persuasive sexism in our society. Viewers could then use the provided information to make their own credible and persuasive appeals against the stereotypes.