Television viewing and perceptions of women’s roles on television and in real life
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Television has been heavily criticized in the popular press for the way it depicts women. Narrow and stereotyped portrayals of women may, according to some writers, cultivate misconceptions among the public about the way women are or should be. In a new investigation of this issue a survey study was undertaken with a large British sample in the London ITV region in which data were obtained on TV viewing behaviours and perceptions of the way women are portrayed on TV and beliefs about how they are or should be in real life. Results showed that only weight of action-drama viewing was significantly related to respondents’ perceptions of women. Heavy viewers of action-drama content were more likely than light viewers to perceive women in reality as self-reliant, not quarrelsome with other women, not dependent on attractiveness to get on, and not preoccupied by romantic affairs. However, heavy action viewers also tended to believe that most women actually want to become mothers, and do not want careers, and more importantly that women ought to be like this. Only in some respects were these relationships consonant with those inferred by content analysts.
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