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Ryan Gosling 'Hey Girl' Meme Makes Men More Accepting Of Feminism: Study

01/28/2015 09:16 EST | Updated 01/28/2015 09:59 EST

Ryan Gosling is doing more for the world than making Canadians look good.

A study out of the University of Saskatchewan has found that combining feminist messages with the "Drive" actor's photo can make them more palatable for men.

The study, by applied social psychology researchers Linzi Williamson and Sarah Sangster, and supervisor Karen Lawson, was inspired by the popular "Feminist Ryan Gosling" meme, in which the actor's face is superimposed with feminist statements.

hey girl ryan gosling

feminist ryan gosling

They had 99 male and female undergraduates split into two separate groups, with the first examining "Feminist Ryan Gosling" memes, while the second looked at photos of the actor with no messages.

Participants then answered questions regarding feminist thinking, said a university news release.

The study found that those who looked at the memes — male subjects, particularly — were more inclined to agree with particular feminist beliefs than people who just saw the actor's photo.

The National Post reported that men saw their feminist leanings increase by up to 10 per cent after looking at the memes.

Women's feelings on feminism didn't change much, whether they saw Gosling paired with a feminist message or not.

The reason, Williamson told the newspaper, is that men could simply see Gosling as a "cool dude."

Sangster, meanwhile, suggested that men could see him as "sexual competition, so he becomes someone to live up to."

Their research helped them conclude that Internet memes can serve as a "persuasive device for relaying ideological information." Though they also found that humour can influence people.

"We study some pretty heavy areas of literature, so for us, we like to see the humourous side of research," Williamson said in a news release. "There is room for being a little bit cheeky."

Other research has suggested that men might be more feminist than they let on.

University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Adam Grant wrote in The Atlantic last year that some men want to openly support women, but they're afraid to say anything because they worry that someone might question their motives.

He also cited research showing that people are greeted with anger and surprise when they try to advocate for causes in which they don't have a stake.

"Some men want to voice their support, but fear that no one will take them seriously because they lack a vested interest in the cause," Grant said.

For his part, Gosling found the "Hey Girl" meme funny in an MTV interview in 2010, though in 2013 he told The Hollywood Reporter that he had never said "Hey girl" in his life.

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