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Effects of sex in the media - a book chapter by Jackson and Barlett
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Effects of sex in the media - a book chapter by Jackson and Barlett

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Notes on Chapter 15 of the book "Media effects. Advances in Theory and Research", edited by Bryant and Oliver.

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Effects of sex in the media - a book chapter by Jackson and Barlett Effects of sex in the media - a book chapter by Jackson and Barlett Presentation Transcript

  • Effects of sex in the media Richard Jackson Harris & Christopher P. Barlett Presented by: Xanat V. Meza
  • Introduction • Where do we learn about sex? • What is the impact of those influences? – 29% of US teens identified TV as their most important source of information about sex (Time/CNN poll, 1998) – Although the most-mentioned source (45%) was friends, only 7% cited parents and 3% cited sex education. – 29% of boys rated pornography as their most significant source of sex education (Check, 1995).
  • The nature of sex in the media: Types of sexual content. • Pornography generated $13 billion just in the US in 2006 (IT Facts, 2007). • Sex magazines have declined but video sales and rentals, cable and pay-per-view TV have grown. • Internet pornography produced over 20% of the total revenue in 2006.
  • The nature of sex in the media: Types of sexual content. • Most scholars distinguish between: – Violent sexual material: portrays rape, bondage, torture, sadomasochism, hitting, spanking, hair pulling and genital mutilation. – Non violent sexual material: • Mutually consenting and affectionate (erotica). • Some of this material is sexually dehumanizing, depicting degradation, domination, subordination, or humiliation.
  • The nature of sex in the media: Types of sexual content. • Portraits the woman focusing on body parts and sexual appetite. • Portraits the man as dominant. • The woman is far more likely to be exposed or nude. • Sex in media might include any representation that portrays or implies sexual behavior, interest or motivation. E.g. sex crimes, celebrity gossip… • Also, sex is rampant in advertising, particularly in products like perfume, automobiles and kitchen sinks.
  • The nature of sex in the media: Electronic media • Standards have been usually more conservative in open Television and Radio than for print media, because it is easier to shield children from it. • With the advent of widespread cable and video technology, a sort of double standard has arisen. • Internet has virtually no effective restrictions.
  • The nature of sex in the media: Electronic media • There is disagreement about what kinds of restrictions or blocking software would be both legal and effective without blocking useful non-sexual sites like breast cancer information or art sites. • Who watches porn? Mainly males from 18 to 45 years (Buzzell, 2005). • On TV, sexual talk and innuendoes are rampant, most often in a humorous context.
  • The nature of sex in the media: Electronic media • Most R-rated movies show unmarried partners, premarital and extra-marital sexual encounters. • On TV, only 3% of the portrayals conveyed risks or responsibilities. • In 2007, a longitudinal meta analysis of 25 content analyses on US primetime network programing was conducted (pg. 306).
  • Effects of consuming sexual media • Sex sells… • and other 3 main effects: Arousal, attitudinal changes and behavioral effects. • The theories behind this effects include cultivation theory, social cognitive theory, elaboration likelihood model, priming, and uses and gratifications.
  • Arousal • It is the heightened physiological state that energizes sexual behavior. • It is measured in two ways: – Self-ratings. – Electronic sensors measuring penile tumescence, vaginal lubrication, or temperature.
  • Arousal • Men are typically more aroused by sexual media than women, especially in response to sexually violent or dehumanizing materials (Malamuth, 1996; Murnen & Stockton, 1997). • Sexual arousal in response to stimuli that would not normally be arousing may be learned through classical conditioning. It can include smell, clothing, or specific behavior.
  • Arousal • Censoring may make the material more arousing because viewers can fill in their own scripts. • Carnes (2001) argues that since Internet has an unlimited number of websites that feature any sexual desire that the user wants, this leads to sexual arousal because the stimuli are new.
  • Individual differences in viewers • Men scoring high in narcissism found a rape scene preceded by affection between the parties as more entertaining and arousing than low narcissists did (Bushman, Bonacci, van Dijk and Baumeister, 2003) • Dominance, machiavellianism, psychoticism and hypermasculinity were correlated with the likelhood ofviewing erotica containing violence, child pornography, or women with insatiable sexual appetites (Bogaert, 2001).
  • The gender skew • Explicit sexual materials have traditionally been designed by men and for men, so they have a distinctly macho, hypermasculine orientation. • Nevertheless, few studies have shown women to have more positive reactions to sexual videos written and directed by women and for women. • This could be explained because men tend to seek a greater number of sexual partners, while women are more interested in a longer-term commitment to help raise the offspring.
  • The gender skew • Therefore, men seek out and use sexual media more than women and are generally more aroused than women by them, especially media that visually represent many different potential partners. • Women prefer more contextually based sexual expressions like romance novels.
  • The catharsis legend • Catharsis is the emotional release that follows the expression of an impulse. • Applied to sex, this argument predicts that consuming sexual media relieves sexual urges, becoming a substitute for the real behavior. • Research support for catharsis is weak to nonexistent (Bushman, Baumeister & Stack, 1999). See Scheele and DuBois (2006) for a recent conceptual examination of history and status of catharsis theory.
  • Attitudinal effects • Sex and values. Repeated exposure to media with a more-or-less consistent set of messages may cultivate a worldview that increasingly reflects the perspective of the media (Morgan, Shanahan, & Signorelli) • Increasing numbers of media including coercion and sexual violence may desensitize readers to violence toward women, especially if the characters are identified as respectful. • Pornography is ideologically antiwomen (Buchwald, Fletcher & Roth, 1993; Russell, 1998).
  • Sexual Attitudes • There is a large body of research showing the effects on a variety of sexual attitudes and values after exposure to nonviolent sexually explicit materials. • Men even reported that they loved their partners less after seeing sexually explicit videos (Kenrick, Gutierres & Goldberg, 1989) • Men and women who watched weekly pornographic films reported less satisfaction with their real-life partners, and placed less value on marriage, monogamy and greater acceptance on female submission (Zillmann & Bryant, 1988a, 1988b).
  • Sexual Attitudes • Teens watching daytime talk television with frank discussion of sexual topics later overestimated the frequency of such behaviors (Aubrey, 2007). • Recent exposure to vivid media instances raises the estimation of the frequency of such occurrences in the real world. • All-verbal print descriptions of sex were actually more conducive than photos to fantasizing about a sexual partner (Dermer & Pyszczynski, 1978).
  • Sexual Attitudes • Alcohol consumption may enhance insensitivity to victim distress (Davis, Norris, George, Davis, Martell & Leonesio, 1999), even in women (Davis, Norris, George, Martell, & Heiman, 2006). • Pornography may be consumed for the following purposes: – Sexual enhancement: creating the mood. – Diversion. – Sexual release: stimulates fantasies. – Substitution: to replace a partner. • Men are more likely to report using pornography for sexual release and substitution (Gunter, 2002; Perse, 1994).
  • Slasher films: Sex + Violence in mainstream movies • A slasher film is a generative story of a psychokiller who slashes to death a string of mostly female victims, one by one until he is subdued or killed, usually by the one girl who has survived (Clover, 1992). • Punitive attitudes toward sexuality and traditional attitudes toward women’s sexuality were associated with enjoyment of previews of slasher films (Oliver, 1993)
  • Slasher films: Sex + Violence in mainstream movies • Linz, Donnerstein and Penrod (1984) examined the attitudinal effects of slasher films with a high degree of violence associated with erotic content. • Men generally became less depressed, annoyed and anxious in response to the films. • The films were increasingly rated as enjoyable, humorous and socially meaningful, and progressively less violent, offensive and degrading to women.
  • Slasher films: Sex + Violence in mainstream movies • Linz, Donnerstein and Penrod (1984) examined the attitudinal effects of slasher films with a high degree of violence associated with erotic content. • Men generally became less depressed, annoyed and anxious in response to the films. • The films were increasingly rated as enjoyable, humorous and socially meaningful, and progressively less violent, offensive and degrading to women.
  • Slasher films: Sex + Violence in mainstream movies • Recently, Internet pornography took the interest of researchers (Griffin-Shelley, 2003). • A significant correlation has been found between the amount of Internet pornography viewed and recreational sexual attitudes (including poligamy approval), but the effect was mediated by the realism of the pornography (Peter & Valkenburg, 2006).
  • Slasher films: Sex + Violence in mainstream movies • A survey of college students found that viewing sexually explicit material on the Internet was correlated with masturbating online, sending and receiving pornography online, and seeking new people online (Boies, 2002). • Men more than women use this media because it is sexually arousing, to satisfy sexual needs, fulfill sexual fantasies, and to satisfy curiosity about new sexual techniques (idem).
  • Behavioral Effects: Adolescent Socialization. • Teenagers who watch television with sexual content often, were twice as likely to engage in sexual intercourse over the following year than others who don’t (Collins et al., 2004). • Sexual content in media can have positive effects of increasing knowledge and instigating information seeking. Ex: ER and emergency contraception.
  • Behavioral Effects: Teaching new behaviors. • Due to ethical reasons, there has been virtually no controlled scientific study of effects of viewing extremely violent materials. • Sex offenders are more aroused by pornography and more likely to commit some form of sexual act afterwards (Allen, D’Alessio & Emmers-Sommer, 2000). • The amount of pornography consumption is a significant predictor of sexual aggression in men (Vega & Malamuth, 2007).
  • Behavioral Effects: Teaching new behaviors. • Cybersex means masturbating while communicating online or viewing sexual images on the Internet. • It is a contributing factor in separation and divorce, abstinence, female isolation, lower self-esteem and anger (Schneider, 2000). • If the user or partner has children, 14% of them have seen pornographic images and/or the user masturbating, while 11% of children were adversely affected by the images and users’ cybersex behavior (Schneider, 2003).
  • Teaching new behaviors: Disinhibition of Known Behaviors • The amount of violent pornography consumed significantly predicted self-rated likelihood to rape, although there was no effect of nonviolent pornography (Demare, Briere, & Lips, 1988). • In short, violent pornography exposure is related to more violence against a female, but not a male.
  • Teaching new behaviors: Correlation of Sexual Media to Rape and Other Crimes • Western nations have experienced a large increase in the availability of sexually explicit media and in the rise in reported rapes since the 1960’s. • Results of studies sometimes show an increase in availability of sexually explicit media associated with an increase in rape rates (Court, 1987; Jaffee & Straus, 1987) and other times a decrease or no difference (Kutchinsky, 1973; 1991).
  • Teaching new behaviors: Correlation of Sexual Media to Rape and Other Crimes • An interesting variable due to cultural factors is Japan’s case, where there is a high availability of sexually explicit materials but very low rape rates (Diamond & Uchiyama, 1999). • Sexual themes are not associated with shame and guilt. • Society emphasizes order, obligation, cooperation and virtue, and one who violates social norms is the object of shame.
  • Teaching new behaviors: What about the Context? • Some artistic materials and sex manuals are considered acceptable and even healthy. • Artistic works can be viewed differently according to time. • Reactions to an erotic material depending on who we watch it with are also different. • The relation and integration of sex to the overall plot is also important. • Culture again: Western Europe and Latin America vs. Muslim and East Asian cultures.
  • Mitigating the negative effects of sexual media. • Some studies have developed and evaluated extensive pre-exposure training and/or post- exposure debriefing procedures designed to lessen the desensitizing effects of sexual violence (Intons-Peterson et al., 1989; Linz et al., 1990) • Experimental participation may sometimes decrease rape myth acceptance. • Men over 50 had preexisting attitudes reinforced and blamed women more for rape (Wilson et al., 1992).
  • Children and Sexual Media. • Due to ethical reasons, there is no research systematically showing young children sexually explicit material and measuring the reaction. • 196 college students described a memory for some sexual media content they saw. 92% did so, and 39% were 12 years or younger when they saw it. Men’s earlier memories were more positive than women’ s (Cantor et al. 2003).