Stigma of the Ugly Single Male in the Comic Strip Dilbert

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Stigma of the Ugly Single Male in the Comic Strip Dilbert

The single male has traditionally been in a position of dominance, idealized for his power, independence, and status in American society. However, Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, satirizes this depiction by showing the "ugly single male" as the "most feared and hated creature on Earth." In doing so, he emphasizes the importance of physical attractiveness in our society and how it influences perceptions of ourselves as well as others. This paper will show that many social psychological concepts are applicable to this underlying theme. Among them are social identity theory, self-esteem, gender roles, and schemas.

Research has shown that physically attractive people create a positive impression, especially in terms of their social competence, dominance, and intellectual ability. This has been referred to as an attractiveness halo effect (Feingold, 1992). In Dilbert's case, his unattractiveness creates an aura of negative attributions. His colleagues notice his glasses, pocket protector, ill- fitting shirt, disheveled tie, and altogether socially undesirable appearance. All of these factors lead his co-workers to fear any kind of association with him. The males avoid him because being seen with Dilbert would lead to a negative self-concept. The men perceive themselves as more attractive, or at a higher social status than Dilbert and merely acknowledging his presence could threaten their social identity (Trajfel & Turner, 1986). The women also practice avoidance behavior, but for different reasons. They draw the quick conclusion that Dilbert's request for companionship at lunch has underlying romantic intentions. This sort of action identification, lik...

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... identity of intergroup relations (2nd ed., pp.7-24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall

Nisbett & Wilson. (1977). In Abraham Tesser (Ed.), Advanced social psychology (pp.115-116). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Gilbert, D., Fiske, S. & Lindzey, G. (1998). The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 210). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Bibliography:

References

Feingold. (1992). In A. Manstead & M. Hewstone (Eds.), The Blackwell encyclopedia of social psychology (pp.313). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tajfel, H. & Turner, J.C. (1986). The social identity of intergroup relations (2nd ed., pp.7-24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall

Nisbett & Wilson. (1977). In Abraham Tesser (Ed.), Advanced social psychology (pp.115-116). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Gilbert, D., Fiske, S. & Lindzey, G. (1998). The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 210). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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