Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

Does Television Exposure Affect Emerging Adults' Attitudes and Assumptions About Sexual Relationships? Correlational and Experimental Confirmation

  • L. Monique Ward


Because concern is frequently raised that TV's abundant yet stereotypical portrayals of sexual relationships may mislead young viewers, this study examined the effects of both regular viewing habits and experimental exposure on students' conceptions about sexual relationships. A multiethnic sample of 259 undergraduates aged 18–22 was assigned to view a set of clips depicting either 1 of 3 sexual stereotypes or neutral, nonsexual content. Participants then completed measures assessing their attitudes about sexual roles and relationships, their assumptions about the sexual experiences of their peers, and their regular viewing habits. Both correlational and experimental connections emerged between TV viewing and students' sexual attitudes and assumptions. More frequent and more involved viewing were repeatedly associated with students' support of the sexual stereotypes surveyed. Similarly, women exposed to clips representing a particular sexual stereotype were more likely to endorse that notion than were women exposed to nonsexual content. Finally, both experimental exposure and aspects of regular viewing significantly predicted students' sexual attitudes and assumptions, even with demographics and previous sexual experiences controlled.

television media sexuality 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Monique Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

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