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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(9), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7090161

From the Sleeping Princess to the World-Saving Daughter of the Chief: Examining Young Children’s Perceptions of ‘Old’ versus ‘New’ Disney Princess Characters

1
Department of Psychology, University of West London, St Mary’s Road, London W5 5RF, UK
2
Middlesex University Dubai, Knowledge Park, Block 16, Dubai, UAE
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psychosocial Implications of Disney Movies)
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Abstract

Both popular and academic discourse has noted progressive change in the gender role portrayals of much-loved Disney princess characters. However, at present, little is known about children’s recognition of such changes, or of their interpretation of princesses’ gendered behavior. This study therefore asked 131 8–9-year-old UK children to attribute various feminine and masculine characteristics to ‘princesses’ both before and after watching an ‘old’ (Sleeping Beauty) versus ‘new’ (Moana) Disney princess movie. Post-movie they were also asked to attribute these characteristics to the princess characters (Aurora and Moana respectively) and were assessed on their labelling of thirteen popular female characters as ‘princesses’. Results showed that whilst children recognized the largely feminine versus androgynous gendered profiles of Aurora versus Moana respectively, viewing a ‘newer’ Disney movie did not change their perception of ‘princesses’ more broadly. Moreover, a large proportion of children did not identify Moana as a princess at all. Results therefore simultaneously complicate and enhance the current discussion regarding the influence of gender role models, particularly those within the Disney franchise, on the development of gender knowledge and identity in young children. View Full-Text
Keywords: Disney; princess; gender roles; stereotyping; children’s media Disney; princess; gender roles; stereotyping; children’s media
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Hine, B.; Ivanovic, K.; England, D. From the Sleeping Princess to the World-Saving Daughter of the Chief: Examining Young Children’s Perceptions of ‘Old’ versus ‘New’ Disney Princess Characters. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 161.

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