Is Psychology Today Biased Against Men and People of Color?

August 16, 2020 by Joshua
in psychologytoday

[EDIT: I originally submitted this story to my column/blog in Psychology Today. My goal wasn’t to cause problems, but to follow “sunshine is the best disinfectant” since everything in it is publicly available on the site. The piece didn’t show up. As best I can tell it was rejected.]

Why not show us on the cover?

I like to feel included, don’t you?

I’ve written here for a few months. I wanted to learn more about my community. I looked up a few places Psychology Today represents itself: its About page, covers, and media kit.

Psychology Today’s About Page

Psychology Today‘s About page says:

About Psychology Today

Psychology Today is devoted exclusively to everybody’s favorite subject: Ourselves

Sounds great! I would expect “Ourselves” to include a representative sample of our world. I’d like it to include me—my favorite myself. For that matter, I’d like to hope everyone can see something of themselves here. We all have psychology.

Psychology Today’s Covers

I went to our issue archive to see who “ourselves” includes by looking at how Psychology Today presents itself to the world—by its covers.

I reviewed over a decade of them. Issue after issue surprised me at how absent and, when present, objectified it seemed to portray men and people of color. You can review them yourself, but here are the ones I found:

I tallied these covers—sixty of them. I found

  • Images of women: 58 (over 90%)
  • Images of men: 6 (under 10%)
  • Images of people of color: 2 (3%)
  • Independent men: 0
  • Men sexualized, dependent on relationship with women, or both: 6 (100%)
  • Pairs of women: 2
  • Pairs of men: 0
  • Animals: 2
  • Children: 1
  • Yellow smiley faces: 3

In other words, Psychology Today covers show men only in relationship to women to the extent we exist at all. We count as much as animals, children, and yellow smiley faces—except that they can exist independent of women. Men don’t exist on our own, nor in relationship with other men.

People of color barely exist but at least can on their own. Still, covers show more yellow smiley faces than people of color. And as many animals.

Please check my tally. I may have missed people. I made my best call on how people presented and my perception may differ from yours.

Psychology Today’s Media Kit

How about our media kit, what we share with other businesses? I didn’t tally it as closely as the covers, but yet again, almost no men or people of color. In a few background pictures or clip art I saw a couple men and people of color on their own, but I think still outnumbered by animals.

It claims a readership of 62/38 female/male. Then why so little representation?

The “Editorial Breakdown” says nothing about restricting our focus by sex or skin color.

A Healthy Editorial Mix

Psychology Today embraces the fact that wellness is as much about self-awareness and self-care as it is physical health. Every issue offers trusted advice from experts in the fields of relationships and self-esteem, sexual health, nutrition, and everyday health issues. By putting into perspective the latest research and trends, Psychology Today provides useful advice that’s balanced and inspirational, offering a step-by-step plan for healthy living on topics that are designed to help readers take immediate action in their lives.

Psychology Today: Where is the diversity?

I am part of this community, so I’m asking myself too: Psychology Today, where are the men and people of color?

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