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Television viewing and the learning of sex-role stereotypes

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This study was designed to determine the relationship between the amount of time children spend watching television and their knowledge of adult sex-role stereotypes. Males and females in grades 1, 3, 5, and 7 who were classified as heavy television viewers (25 or more hours per week) or light viewers (10 or less hours per week) both at the time of the study and 15 months previously were administered the Sex Stereotype Measure, an instrument designed to determine children's awareness of stereotyped sex-role perceptions held by adults. Heavy viewers were found to have more stereotyped perceptions than light viewers. A significant interaction effect indicated that among low viewers the perception of male stereotypes steadily declines with increasing age; among heavy viewers, stereotypic responses to male items are maintained with increasing age. No comparable interaction effect was obtained for perception of female stereotypes. The role of interaction with live models in breaking down stereotypic perceptions of males is discussed.

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McGhee, P.E., Frueh, T. Television viewing and the learning of sex-role stereotypes. Sex Roles 6, 179–188 (1980).

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