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Researching Media

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PG-13 Rated Movie Violence and Societal Violence...

is there a Link? Research paper by Christopher J. Ferguson and Patrick Markey

Link Here26th August 2019


Recent scholarship has suggested that the frequency of violence in PG-13 rated movies has increased in recent years. Although some scholars have expressed concern that such an increase may have public health implications, this has remained untested.

In the current article, trends in PG-13 movie violence are tested against trends in violence in society, including both homicides and youth violence.

Raw correlations suggest that PG-13 rated movie violence is inversely related to actual violence in society. However, controlling for autocorrelations suggests that the best interpretation is that PG-13 rated movie violence is unrelated to violence in society. Caution is advised for scholars to avoid implying that PG-13 rated movie violence may have a causal effect on crime in society.



Justifying a PG-15 rating for unjustified gun violence...

US researchers claim that Hollywood movie gun violence would sit easier at PG-15 rather than PG-13

Link Here 14th May 2018
The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania have claimed in a report that parents would prefer to PG-15 to a PG-13 for Hollywood movies featuring gunplay. The researchers write:

Parents are more willing to let their children see intense gun violence in PG-13 movies when the violence appears to be "justified," used in defense of a loved one or for self-protection, than when it has no socially redeeming purpose, a new study finds.

But even when the gun violence in PG-13 movies appears justified, parents think that the movies are more suitable for teens age 15 and up, two years older than suggested by the movie industry ratings board's PG-13 rating. Parents thought movies with unjustified but bloodless gun violence were more appropriate for 16-year-olds, the study finds.

The study, Parental Desensitization to Gun Violence in PG-13 Movies , by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center was published online in the journal Pediatrics on May 14 and will be in the June issue. Lead author Daniel Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), said:

"The findings suggest that parents may want a new rating, PG-15, for movies with intense violence,"  "Violent movies often get a PG-13 rating by omitting the consequences of violence such as blood and suffering, and by making the use of violence seem justified. But parents of teenagers say that even scenes of justified violence are upsetting and more appropriate for teens who are at least 15."

The rise of gun violence in PG-13 movies

Past studies by APPC researchers found that gun violence in the most popular PG-13 movies has more than doubled since the rating was introduced in 1984, and now exceeds the gun violence in comparable R-rated films. In the earliest years of the PG-13 rating, less than a third of the 30 top-grossing movies were rated PG-13 but recently more than half were PG-13. In past research on the growing acceptance of gun violence in PG-13 films, APPC researchers found that parents appeared to become desensitized to violence as they watched successive movie clips.

The current experiment was designed to understand whether parents became more accepting of the movie violence because they were being emotionally numbed to it or whether the justification for the violence influenced them. Could justified violence be less upsetting than unjustified violence? And could parents who repeatedly saw the kind of bloodless, justified violence featured in PG-13 movies become so accustomed to it that they experience a kind of "normative desensitization" that leads to greater acceptance of its viewing by children?

The experiment

In an online experiment, the APPC researchers showed movie clips to a national sample of 610 parents who have at least one child between the ages 6 and 17. Parents viewed a series of four 90-second clips of either justified or unjustified violence from popular movies. The scenes of justified violence came from the PG-13 movies "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007), "White House Down" (2013), "Terminator Salvation" (2009), and "Taken" (2008). The clips of unjustified violence came from the PG-13 movies "Skyfall" (2012) and "Jack Reacher" (2012) and the R-rated films "Sicario" (2015) and "Training Day" (2001).

Scenes from the R-rated movies were edited to remove graphic and potentially upsetting consequences such as blood and suffering to mimic the effect of PG-13 movies. (PG-13 means parents are strongly cautioned that some material "may be inappropriate for children under 13." The more restricted R rating means viewers under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult.)

Parents less upset by justified violence  

Instead of being emotionally desensitized, parents grew increasingly upset as they watched the succession of movie clips, whether the violence was justified or not (see figure above). But parents were less upset by the justified violence and more lenient in deciding the appropriate age for a child to watch it. Most of the parents said the movies with justified violence were suitable starting at age 15, while the movies with unjustified violence were appropriate starting at age 16 (see figure below).

One exception: The parents who were frequent moviegoers were the most permissive, saying that movies with unjustified violence were suitable for 13-year-olds.

As parents watched the series of movie scenes of unjustified gun violence, they became more restrictive on the appropriate age for viewing, the study found. But that wasn't true with the justified scenes of violence, where parents' opinion of the appropriate viewing age held steady. The researchers also found that when watching the successive justified movie clips, parents increasingly regarded the gun violence itself as justified.

Media violence and children

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been long concerned about the effects of media violence. In a statement in 2016, the academy pointed to a body of research showing that viewing violent media content can influence some youth to become more aggressive .

A recent study by Ohio State University researchers found that children 8 to 12 years old who saw scenes of a PG-rated movie with guns played longer with a real gun and pulled the trigger more often than children who saw a movie without guns. Romer said:

"Despite such evidence, we still don't know whether repeatedly seeing movies with justified violence teaches children that using guns is OK if they think it's justified,"

"Hollywood is exploiting the movie rating system by leaving out harmful consequences like blood and suffering from PG-13 films. By sanitizing the effects of violence, moviemakers are able to get a PG-13 rating and a wider audience for their films. But this gun violence may be just as brutal and potentially harmful to young viewers."



Offsite Article: Sex on TV...

Link Here6th August 2016
Less impact on teens than you might think

See article from



Blurred Thinking...

Another ludicrous academic calls for BBFC to rewrite their rules to suit her pet campaign against smoking and drinking

Link Here15th January 2016
Full story: Smoking Censorship in the UK...Campaigners calling for film and TV censorship
Dr Jo Cranwell, a psychologist from the University of Nottingham, is calling for tighter measures put in place to protect children from images depicting smoking an drinking in music videos.

She claims that British teenagers are being exposed to a high level of tobacco and alcohol images in online music videos and research from the University of Nottingham suggests girls aged between 13 and 15 are the most exposed.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health , analysed 32 of the most popular music videos during a 12-week period. reserachers estimated, using the census and their own data, that the average percentage of viewing of those videos was 22% for teenagers and 6% for adults. They worked out the total number of depictions (impressions) of alcohol and tobacco in 10-second slots throughout the music videos seen by viewers. Overall, the videos produced 1,006 million impressions of alcohol and 203 million of tobacco.

Trumpets by Jason Derulo, and Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke delivered some of the highest number of tobacco impressions, while Timber by Pitbull, and Drunk In Love by Beyonce, delivered the most alcohol content, the study said.

Cranwell whinged:

Girls are looking at role models beyond their core family unit and their peers. They're looking at wider society and they're looking at celebrities on film, she said. They're very attractive and they lead very aspirational lifestyles and these young girls are looking to them to learn about how they should look and how they should behave.

The BBFC should include portrayals of alcohol and tobacco smoking in their 'drug misuse' and their 'dangerous behaviours presented as safe age classification' criteria and at the moment they're not.

The BBFC says classification of content online is not required by law but many platforms use BBFC age ratings voluntarily. Its guidelines state that classification decisions also take into account any promotion or glamorisation of activities such as smoking or drinking. The last review in 2013 public opinion was clear that neither smoking nor alcohol were viewed as areas for concern for film classification .

Presumably Cranwell was too wrapped up in self importance to realise that issuing silly ratings, eg an 18 rating for 1001 Dalmatians, would undermine the credibility of ratings and would lead to parents ignoring them entirely.



Geriatric Pediatrics...

Researchers think that assigning ludicrous age ratings to films will somehow effect levels of alcohol use

Link Here19th April 2015

Alcohol Use in Films and Adolescent Alcohol Use by Andrea Waylen, Sam Leary, Andrew Ness and James Sargent

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether exposure to alcohol use in films is associated with early alcohol use, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems in British adolescents.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study with 5163 15-year-olds from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in the United Kingdom. We measured adolescent exposure to alcohol use in films, age at onset of alcohol use, and binge-drinking behavior. We adjusted for early childhood social, family and behavioral factors, adolescent tobacco use, and peer drinking.

RESULTS: After adjustment, adolescents with the highest exposure to alcohol use in films were 1.2 times more likely to have tried alcohol compared with those least exposed and 1.7 times more likely to binge drink. They were 2.4 times more likely to drink weekly and 2.0 times more likely to have alcohol-related problems than those least exposed.

CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to alcohol use in films is associated with higher risk of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in UK adolescents. Our findings provide evidence to support the argument that a review of film-rating categories and alcohol ratings for all films may help reduce problem-related alcohol consumption in young people.

The authors of a new study argue that a movie that depicts any type of drinking should automatically earn an MPAA R rating or BBFC equivalent.

The study , published by the journal Pediatrics , claims that teens who see drinking on the big screen are more likely to drink themselves.

Among a group of 5,163 15-year-olds from England, those who watched the most minutes of drinking on film were twice as likely to have alcohol-related problems as those who watched the fewest. They were also 2.4 times more likely to drink at least once a week and 70% more likely consume five or more drinks in a single day.

The study authors tried to gauge the teens' exposure to drinking in movies. Researchers had watched 366 popular movies and counted up the amount of time that drinking was depicted in each of them. The teens were presented with a random sample of 50 of these movies and asked whether they had seen them. All of the minutes of drinking in all of the movies seen by each kid were added together, and the average was 47.3 minutes.

The 25% of teens with the lowest exposure -- less than 28 minutes in total -- served as the baseline. Those in the group with the highest exposure had seen at least 64 minutes of drinking.

After controlling for a variety of demographic and other factors, the researchers found that the more minutes of drinking the teens had watched, the greater the odds of all kinds of alcohol use. Compared with teens in the lowest-exposure group, those with the highest exposure were 20% more likely to have had a drink at least once; 70% more likely to have a history of binge-drinking; twice as likely to have an alcohol-related problem; and 2.4 times more likely to be drinking at least once a week.

To the extent that movies contribute to teen drinking, one suggested remedy would be to eliminate all drinking in movies made for minors, the study authors wrote. That means any film with even a glass of wine or a can of beer would invoke an R rating from the MPAA (or the equivalent from the British Board of Film Classification ).

It may sound sound ludicrous, but the researchers claim that this is justified because movie rating systems exist to protect children from seeing media that may adversely affect their behavior .

If the MPAA and BBFC were to follow the researchers' advice, a lot of movies would get stricter ratings. A 2011 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that 72% of the top-grossing movies in the United Kingdom between 1989 and 2008 included scenes of drinking, but only 6% of them were rated for adults.

Of course the researchers didn't bother to contemplate the effects of such a loss of credibility so essential to parents use of film ratings.



Correlational Violence...

Research finds that media violence simply does not correlate with actual societal violence

Link Here6th January 2015

Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When

By Christopher J. Ferguson*


This article presents 2 studies of the association of media violence rates with societal violence rates. In the first study, movie violence and homicide rates are examined across the 20th century and into the 21st (1920 - 2005). Throughout the mid-20th century small-to-moderate correlational relationships can be observed between movie violence and homicide rates in the United States. This trend reversed in the early and latter 20th century, with movie violence rates inversely related to homicide rates. In the second study, videogame violence consumption is examined against youth violence rates in the previous 2 decades. Videogame consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates. Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.

Research, led by psychologist Christopher Ferguson and published in the Journal of Communication , has found that there was no link between violent media and behaviour and has also questioned the methodology of previous studies suggesting the two were related.

Ferguson and his team point out that many laboratory-based studies into the effect of media violence have measured aggression in test subjects through less aggressive outcomes ranging from filling in the missing letters of words through delivering nonpainful noise bursts to a consenting opponent.

The study points out that these studies also commonly provide exposure to brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences and that the resultant aggressive behaviors are also outside a real-world context in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves.

In the first of two historical studies the researchers examined the correlation of violent films and societal violence, analysing the frequency of violent acts in the top-grossing titles between 1920 and 2005.

The study notes that film violence followed a rough U pattern during this time period, but that societal violence fluctuated differently, with the latter half of the 20th century even showing an increase in film violence associated with reduced societal violence .

A second study into video game violence used data from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to estimate the violent content of popular games from 1996 to 2011. This was then compared with data on youth violence during the same years, with the study finding a correlation between falling youth violence and the popularity of violent games.

During this time period youth violence dropped precipitously , despite maintaining very high levels of media violence in society with the introduction of videogames.



Researchers with nothing better to do than watch Tom and Jerry all day...

There's more death and mayhem in cartoon's than in films for adults

Link Here 17th December 2014
It's something any Tom and Jerry viewer must have known for a long time. Children's cartoons are apparently more violent than films aimed at adults, and filled with murder and mayhem according to 'research'.

Animated characters are more than twice as likely to be killed off than actors in movies aimed at a grown up audience, the study claims. The authors of the research concluded:

Rather than being innocuous and gentler alternatives to typical horror or drama films, children's animated films are, in fact, hotbeds of murder and mayhem.

The study, published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, assessed the amount of violence young children might be exposed to when watching films targeted at their age group:

Parents of main characters were more than five times as likely to die in children's cartoons as they were in films targeted at adults.

Researchers Dr Ian Colman and Dr James Kirkbride, from the University of Ottawa in Canada and University College London, also found no evidence to suggest that the level of violence has changed in children's films since Snow White.



Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence?...

Er.. no. Another research paper finds no correlation

Link Here 9th November 2014

Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When, by Christopher Ferguson; Journal of Communication

Since the 1920s, scholars and politicians have blamed violence in movies and other media as a contributing factor to rising violence in society. Recently the responses to mass shootings in Aurora, CO and at Sandy Hook Elementary followed this theme as media consumption came into the equation. But can consumption of violent media really be a factor in real-world violence? A recent study published in the Journal of Communication by a researcher at Stetson University found that there were no associations between media violence consumption in society and societal violence.

Christopher Ferguson (Stetson University) published his findings in the Journal of Communication. Ferguson conducted two studies that raised the question if whether the incidence of violence in media correlates with actual violence rates in society. The first study looked at movie violence and homicide rates between 1920 and 2005. The second study looked at videogame violence consumption and its relationship to youth violence rates from 1996-2011. He found that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased violence rates in society.

For the first study, independent raters evaluated the frequency and graphicness of violence in popular movies from 1920-2005. These were correlated to homicide rates for the same years. Overall, movie violence and homicide rates were not correlated. However, during the mid-20th century, movie violence and homicide rates did appear to correlate slightly, which may have led some to believe a larger trend was at play. That correlation reversed after 1990 so that movie violence became correlated with fewer homicides. Prior to the 1940s, movie violence was similarly related to fewer homicides, not more.

In the second study on video game violence, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings were used to estimate the violent content of the most popular video games for the years 1996-2011. These estimates of societal video game violence consumption were correlated against federal data on youth violence rates during the same years. Violent video game consumption was strongly correlated with declines in youth violence. However, it was concluded that such a correlation is most likely due to chance and does not indicate video games caused the decline in youth violence.

Previous studies have focused on laboratory experiments and aggression as a response to movie and videogame violence, but this does not match well with real-life exposure. Other studies have indicated that, in the short term, the release of violent movies or video games is associated with declines in societal violence. However, no one has examined these trends long-term. Some scholars have argued that movies are becoming more violent, but none have examined whether this phenomenon is a concern for society. This study is the first to suggest that movie violence and video game violence consumption probably are increasing over time, but that there is little evidence that this has caused a problem for society.

Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime. There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health, Ferguson said. This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.



Abstract: Bleeding Obvious...

Researchers find that the more gory films are, the more they attract the attention

Link Here19th June 2014
Captivated and Grossed Out: An Examination of Processing Core and Sociomoral Disgusts in Entertainment Media

By Bridget Rubenking ( University of Central Florida) and Annie Lang (Indiana University)


While disgust repels and offends us, it has functionally evolved over time to compel our attention---both to core disgusts (i.e., blood, guts, body products) and sociomoral violations (i.e., injustices, brutality, racism)---making it a quality of many entertainment messages that may keep audiences engrossed and engaged. An experiment exposed participants to two types of core disgusts and sociomoral disgusts in TV/film messages and collected self-report emotional responses, psychophysiological indicators of dynamic emotional and cognitive processing, and recognition memory for content. Results demonstrate that no two disgusts are alike: Sociomoral disgusts captivate our attention and elicit a slower, more thoughtful response pattern than core disgusts, and the nature of the core disgust elicits different responses as well.



Rated R for 'Researchers' Pet Prohibition...

Health researchers call for movies featuring alcohol to be R rated

Link Here3rd June 2013

Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center say MPAA film ratings should take depictions of alcohol use into consideration.

In fact, their newly published study suggests that movies showing alcohol use in contexts that could increase curiosity or acceptability of unsafe drinking should be rated R.

Elaina Bergamini is the lead author of the study, Trends in Tobacco and Alcohol Brand Placements in Popular U.S. Movies, 1996 through 2009, published last week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The study looked at the top 100 movies in each of those 14 years, counting how many times alcohol and tobacco brands were depicted in all 1,400 movies. Bergamini and her fellow researchers found that while depictions of tobacco brands dropped during that period, depictions of alcohol brands in movies rated G, PG, or PG-13 went up markedly. In 1998, she explained, tobacco companies signed the so-called Master Settlement Agreement. As part of that agreement, the companies agreed to end product placements of their brands in film and TV.

However brand placement for alcohol is still self-regulated. And the study found that alcohol brand placement has increased significantly in movies rated acceptable for youth audiences, a trend that could have implications for teen drinking. The number of alcohol brand appearances in youth-rated movies increased from about 80 per year at the beginning of the study period to 145 per year at the end. About two-thirds of those top-100 movies in the study were rated G, PG or PG-13. And it turned out that 63% of all alcohol brand appearances were in youth-rated films.

She contends alcohol companies are intentionally inserting their brands into movies that youngsters will see. She claims:

They're trying to generate brand loyalty in a subset of the population that can't drink yet. So when they go to drink that first time, they know what to ask for.



Unmemorable attempt to pin something on internet porn addiction...

Researchers find that sexual arousal temporarily inhibits memory. Probably just being a bit distracted by horny thoughts

Link Here 1st January 2013

Pornographic Picture Processing Interferes with Working Memory Performance

By Christian Laiera (Department of General Psychology: Cognition, University of Duisburg--Essen), Frank P. Schultea & Matthias Branda (Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance Imaging).


Some individuals report problems during and after Internet sex engagement, such as missing sleep and forgetting appointments, which are associated with negative life consequences.

One mechanism potentially leading to these kinds of problems is that sexual arousal during Internet sex might interfere with working memory (WM) capacity, resulting in a neglect of relevant environmental information and therefore disadvantageous decision making.

In this study, 28 healthy individuals performed 4 experimental manipulations of a pictorial 4-back WM task with neutral, negative, positive, or pornographic stimuli. Participants also rated 100 pornographic pictures with respect to sexual arousal and indicated masturbation urges previous to and following pornographic picture presentation.

Results revealed worse WM performance in the pornographic picture condition of the 4-back task compared with the three remaining picture conditions. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analysis indicated an explanation of variance of the sensitivity in the pornographic picture condition by the subjective rating of the pornographic pictures as well as by a moderation effect of masturbation urges.

Results contribute to the view that indicators of sexual arousal due to pornographic picture processing interfere with WM performance. Findings are discussed with respect to Internet sex addiction because WM interference by addiction-related cues is well known from substance dependencies.



No Solace for Nutters...

Researchers find that James Bond films have gotten more violent with time

Link Here16th December 2012

James Bond films are more than twice as violent as they used to be, New Zealand researchers from Otago University have claimed.

Researchers analysed 22 films in the Bond franchise, from Dr No in 1962 to Quantum of Solace in 2008, to test the theory that popular movies are becoming more violent. Not only did the newer Bond films feature more violence, there was an even bigger increase in the amount of sever e violence, defined as acts likely to cause death or injury if they occurred in real life.

The violent acts ranged from trivial, such as pushes or open-handed slaps, to severe, such as punches, kicking or attacks with weapons. Dr No featured 109 violent acts compared with 250 in Quantum of Solace, which included nearly three times as many acts of severe violence.

Study co-author Associate Professor Bob Hancox said:.

There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitisation to violence and aggressive behaviour.

Canterbury University criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said:

The more graphic the violence and the more spectacular the violence, the more appeal it has for kids, and the more money they [movies] make.

Newbold spouted that film violence was not a problem for children from good families, but it did have an impact on children from violent home backgrounds, who identified with characters capable of extreme violence and domination.

Bob McCoskrie, director of nutter lobby group Family First, said the findings did not surprise him at all. He said film classifications were looser now than a decade ago, which was helping to normalise violence, bad language and sexual content:

I think we'd be naive to think that we can continue to feed ourselves violent images and from there try to argue it has no influence on our actions or our attitudes - especially perhaps for younger people.

Chief censor Andrew Jack said societal attitudes towards the likes of violence and sex had changed, and that was reflected in the types of films being made. Jack said there had been no complaints so far about the latest Bond film, Skyfall, which was rated M, and one complaint each against the classifications of the previous two Bond films.



The Buffy Effect...

The 'right' sort of media violence

Link Here7th September 2012

Positive Female Role-Models Eliminate Negative Effects of Sexually Violent Media , By Christopher J. Ferguson; Journal of Communication

Men and women are less likely to experience negative effects to sexual violent media when watching a positive portrayal of a strong female character, even when that character is a victim of sexual violence.

Christopher Ferguson, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M International University, surveyed 150 university students in a controlled environment in a recent study published in the Journal of Communication. Each participant screened a variety of TV shows that portrayed women in different lights when it came to sexual violence. The results showed that men and women had less anxiety and negative reactions when viewing television shows that depicted a strong female character rather than a submissive one.

Past research has been inconsistent regarding the effects of sexually violent media on viewer's hostile attitudes toward women. Much of the previous literature has conflated possible variables such as sexually violent content with depictions of women as subservient

The submissive characters often reflect a negative gender bias that women and men find distasteful. This outweighed the sexual violence itself, giving credence to what Ferguson calls the Buffy Effect ---named after the popular television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its strong lead female character.

Although sexual and violent content tends to get a lot of attention, I was surprised by how little impact such content had on attitudes toward women. Instead it seems to be portrayals of women themselves, positive or negative that have the most impact, irrespective of objectionable content. In focusing so much on violence and sex, we may have been focusing on the wrong things, Ferguson said.

While it is commonly assumed that viewing sexually violent TV involving women causes men to think negatively of women, the results of this carefully designed study demonstrate that they do so only when women are portrayed as weak or submissive, added Journal of Communication editor and University of Washington Professor Malcolm Parks. Positive depictions of women challenge negative stereotypes even when the content includes sexuality and violence. In this way Ferguson reminds us that viewers often process popular media portrayals in more subtle ways than critics of all political stripes give them credit for.



Extract: Report of the Media Violence Commission...

By the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA)

Link Here6th September 2012

One conclusion appears clear-extreme conclusions are to be avoided. Not every viewer or player will be affected noticeably, but from understanding the psychological processes involved, we know that every viewer or player is affected in some way.

Some commentators have argued that violent media, especially violent video games, are the primary cause of school shootings. Other commentators have argued that there is no good evidence of any harmful effects of violent media, usually based on the results of one or two studies. Neither extreme is supported by the vast body of research in this domain.

What is clear is that exposure to media violence is one risk factor for increased aggression in both the short run and the long run.

...See the full report [pdf]



Youngsters who Enjoy Sex, Enjoy Movies Too...

US researchers claim movie sex leads to real life sex

Link Here29th July 2012

US researchers claim that Watching sex scenes in Hollywood films can make children more promiscuous and sexually active from a younger age. Psychologists concluded that teenagers exposed to more sex on screen in popular films are likely to have sexual relations with more people and without using condoms.

The study, based on nearly 700 popular films, concluded that watching love scenes could fundamentally influence a teenager's personality. The researchers, from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, concluded youngsters were more prone to take risks in their future relationships.

They also concluded that for every hour of exposure to sexual content on-screen, participants were more than five times more likely to lose their virginity within six years.

Dr Ross O'Hara, who led the study said:

Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners, and are less likely to use condoms with casual sexual partners.

This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages.

The team, reporting in Psychological Science, studied 1228 children aged between 12 and 14 and then analysed their sexual behaviour six years later. Each teenager identified which popular films of differing classifications they had seen from a random list of 50.

Six years later they were asked how old they were when they became sexually active, how many partners they had, how risky their sexual behaviour was and whether they used condoms. The findings provided a correlation between exposure to sex on screen and sexual behaviour.

The researchers also assessed the sexual content of 684 of the biggest grossing films released between 1998 and 2004. They found some of the most popular films from that time included scenes of a sexual nature, ranging from sexual scenes to heavy kissing. These include Austin Powers, Notting Hill, American Beauty, and James Bond films such as The World is Not Enough.

More than a third of G-rated movies were found to contain sexual content compared to more than half of PG films and four in five R-rated movies. Films with the most sexual content were Summer of Sam, 40 Days of 40 Nights, and American Pie.

The study details are:

Greater Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Earlier Sexual Debut and Increased Sexual Risk Taking

By Ross E. O'Hara, Frederick X. Gibbons, Meg Gerrard, Zhigang Li and James D. Sargent


Early sexual debut is associated with risky sexual behavior and an increased risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections later in life. The relations among early movie sexual exposure (MSE), sexual debut, and risky sexual behavior in adulthood (i.e., multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use) were examined in a longitudinal study of U.S. adolescents. MSE was measured using the Beach method, a comprehensive procedure for media content coding. Controlling for characteristics of adolescents and their families, analyses showed that MSE predicted age of sexual debut, both directly and indirectly through changes in sensation seeking. MSE also predicted engagement in risky sexual behaviors both directly and indirectly via early sexual debut. These results suggest that MSE may promote sexual risk taking both by modifying sexual behavior and by accelerating the normal rise in sensation seeking during adolescence.



A Helluva Read...

'Research' from the religious university Brigham Young finds that adolescent literature contains strong language

Link Here22nd May 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

A Helluva Read : Profanity in Adolescent Literature


Although the use of profanity has been examined in a number of types of media, to our knowledge profanity has not been examined in adolescent literature. Thus, the frequency and portrayal of profanity was coded in 40 bestselling adolescent novels.

Results revealed that some novels did not contain a single instance of profanity, whereas others contained hundreds of often very strong profanity.

When profanity was used, characters were likely to be young, rich, attractive, and of pronounced social status.

Novels directed at older adolescents contained much more profanity. However, age guidance or content warnings are not found on the books themselves.

Discussion is provided regarding the implications of the findings and the appropriateness of including content warnings in adolescent literature.

Offsite Comment: Our swear words have been devalued by overuse -- but not because teenagers are reading too many profane books

22nd May 2012. See  article from

Apparently experts (unidentified, as experts so often are) have estimated that American youths use an average of ninety swear words a day. This makes them seem quite restrained as anyone who has stood at a bus-stop with a collection of British teenagers can testify -- only ninety times a day? On the other hand there are parents of adolescents who will be surprised to learn that their offspring are capable of articulating or muttering as many as ninety words of any kind in the course of a day.

To my mind it's unlikely that all these foul-mouthed adolescents have learned the habit from books, since many of them never open one.

...Read the full article


1st April

Hardly Kick-Ass Evidence...

Female violence blamed on 'kick-ass' female roles in the media
Link Here

Portrayals of kick-ass women in the media are being blamed for an increase the number of women involved in violent offending.

Two New Zealand researchers believe the glorification of females in roles showing women exhibiting physically aggressive and violent behaviour are having a negative impact on young women.

The most recent figures from Statistics New Zealand recorded 162 more females were apprehended for violent crimes in 2010 than in 2009. This included apprehensions for assaults, intimidation and threats.

University of Canterbury Criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said more women were going out and committing crimes that were traditionally the preserve of men.

Professor Newbold said the type of female imagery available to women and young girls created an increased likelihood of violent offending among females.

It seems to be driven by images in the media of kick-ass women.

The media is full of women who are incredibly sexy and good-looking, and who are mentally and physically tough. The constant exposure of young girls and women to this type of image creates an association between being beautiful and powerful, and being at the top.

Female youth violence researcher Donna Swift said there were more cases of girls fighting and put footage of themselves on the internet and Facebook. Dr Swift is head researcher of Girls Project - a two-year study of 3500 Year 10 students that is investigating the reasons behind violent behaviour amongst girls. She said that in her experience, many young women turned to violence because it was normalised in their own homes and communities.

Girl fighting often is highly sexualised by the media and males themselves, she said.

One of the most startling we found amongst New Zealand female youths was the change in behaviour exhibited by girls when they reached the ages of 15 and 16 years."


21st February

Alcohol in the Movies...

Research finds a lifestyle of watching movies correlates with a lifestyle of drinking alcohol
Link Here

A new piece of research has received press attention as it links drinking with movie watching. The research was published in the medical journal BMJ Open.

The information about the research doesn't seem to try and differentiate between those watching movies featuring drinking and movies without drinking. I would guess that just watching a lot of movies regardless of drink or not, is enough to explain the figures found below, as this is enough to differentiate between different lifestyles.

From a UK perspective

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport told Associated Press:  Alcohol in films is an issue that is covered in the classification guidelines used by the British Board of Film Classification, and the promotion or glamourisation of drinking is something that is taken into account in classification decisions.

Comparing media and family predictors of alcohol use: a cohort study of US adolescents

By Mike Stoolmiller, Thomas A Wills, Auden C McClure. Susanne E Tanski, Keilah A Worth, Meg Gerrard and James D Sargent of Dartmouth College, USA


Objective To compare media/marketing exposures and family factors in predicting adolescent alcohol use.


Confidential telephone survey of adolescents in their homes.


Representative sample of 6522 US adolescents, aged 10--14 years at baseline and surveyed four times over 2 years.


Time to alcohol onset and progression to binge drinking were assessed with two survival models. Predictors were movie alcohol exposure (MAE), ownership of alcohol-branded merchandise and characteristics of the family (parental alcohol use, home availability of alcohol and parenting). Covariates included sociodemographics, peer drinking and personality factors.


Over the 2 year study period, the prevalence of adolescent using alcohol at least once increased from 11% to 25% and binge drinking  and from 4% to 13%.

  • The median estimated movie alcohol exposure from 532 movies was 4.5 hour

  • 11% owned alcohol-branded merchandise.

  • parental alcohol use (weekly or more) was reported by 23%

  • 29% of adolescents could obtain alcohol from home.

Peer drinking, movie alcohol exposure, alcohol-branded merchandise, age and rebelliousness were associated with both alcohol onset and progression to binge drinking.

The ratio for alcohol onset for high versus low movie alcohol exposure exposure were 2.13 +/- 0.44. Movie alcohol exposure accounted for 28% of this transition.

The ratio for binge drinking for high versus low movie alcohol exposure exposure were 1.63 +/- 0.43. Movie alcohol exposure accounted for 20% of this transition.

Characteristics of the family were associated with alcohol onset but not with progression.


The results suggest that family focused interventions would have a larger impact on alcohol onset while limiting media and marketing exposure could help prevent both onset and progression.


21st June

Ratings Rated as 2nd Rate...

Study reveals that parents would prefer content ratings so that they can make up their own mind about age appropriateness
Link Here

New research indicates that many parents believe media ratings help them make decisions about what type of content they allow their children to be exposed to, but improvements in media rating systems are needed.

The research, involving the opinions of more than 2,300 adults, also indicates that there is sometimes disagreement on matters involving age appropriateness for various kinds of content. What some might deem appropriate for one specific childhood age group might be considered inappropriate by other adults. Many parents believe that current rating systems are inaccurate and need to be improved.

A majority of parents surveyed felt there should be a universal rating system for all media, including web sites, music CDs, and games played on handheld devices.

Current rating systems vary widely among movies, television, and video games and can be confusing, according to analysis of three surveys.

The researchers also mention ratings creep, meaning that ratings over time tend to become more lenient. They cite another previous study of 2,000 films and found that one that was rated PG-13 in 2003 included about the same amount of violence, nudity, and offensive language as one rated R a decade earlier.

Parents were asked views on the age appropriateness of allowing kids to see such things as romantic kissing, partial nudity, implied sexual situations, depictions of drug and alcohol use, and to hear offensive language or insults about body parts.

They also were asked about when kids of various ages should be allowed to be exposed to situations of sexual innuendo and suggestive sexual dialogue. Opinions varied widely. The largest percentage of parents indicated age 17 and older might be appropriate for media involving sexual situations, explicit sex, explicit dialogue, partial nudity, and commercials with sexual content.

Researchers reached a number of key conclusions. For example:

  • Parents want detailed content ratings along with age-based ratings.
  • Ratings only are effective if they can help parents make decisions, but current systems vary and can be confusing
  • Different demographics variables, such as church attendance and personal values, may be related to perceptions of age appropriateness for different kinds of content.
  •  It would be impossible to have age-based ratings that would be deemed suitable by all demographic groups; content-based ratings may be preferable to age-based ratings.

Clearly defined and available content descriptors provide the most information and they allow parents to make their own decisions about age appropriateness, the researchers write.

The research is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.


23rd January

Unsafe Research...

Hollywood films found to feature unsafe practices
Link Here

Researchers claim that the main protagonists of Hollywood movies often undermine accident prevention advice given to children.

Half the scenes examined in movies aimed at children showed unsafe practices including not wearing seat belts, breaking the green cross code and failing to wear helmets on bikes.

The mistakes could give children a false sense of safety they claim which could lead to bad habits and encourage dangerous activity.

Dr Jon Eric Tongren, the lead researcher at America's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the industry was improving but had a long way to go: The entertainment industry has improved the depiction of selected safety practices and PG-rated movies . However, approximately one half of scenes depict unsafe practices and the consequences of these behaviours are rarely shown.

Dr Tongren picked out two examples to highlight the problem.

In the 2003 Christmas movie Elf , the main character played by actor Will Ferrell gets knocked down by a New York City taxi while crossing the street. He bounces back up without a scratch which Dr Tongren said gave a false view of what happens.

And in the 2005 comedy Yours, Mine and Ours , about a family with 18 kids, the children are wearing life jackets during a boat trip but not the parents played by Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo.

The two films were among 67 popular movies from 2003 to 2007 examined in the study including Harry Potter. From those movies, the researchers found 958 scenes involving potential injury-prevention practices. 55% of the scenes involved children. Twenty-two scenes involved either a fall or a crash, but just three of those scenes resulted in an injury

The study, published in the journal, Paediatrics, found 44% of people in motor vehicles failed to wear seat belts; 65% of pedestrians did not cross at zebra crossings, 75% of cyclists failed to wear a helmet and 25% of boaters failed to wear life vests.


26th November

Cast Off Research...

Nutter 'researcher' finds that sex doesn't sell in the movies
Link Here

According to a new study published in the November journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts , sex does not sell mainstream cinema.

Crunching data from 914 films released between 2001 and 2005, researchers Dean Keith Simonton from the University of California, Davis, and independent Vancouver-based researcher Anemone Cerridwen discovered sex and nudity have a negligible impact on the box office.

If anything, too much hard-core action could actually hurt a film's performance. On average, the less sex and nudity, the higher the gross. The more sex and nudity, the lower the gross by approximately 31%.

All in all, it appears that sex may neither sell nor impress. This null effect might suggest most cinematic sex is in fact gratuitous, write the authors.

It is manifest that anyone who argues that sex sells or impresses must be put on notice. At present, no filmmaker should introduce such content under the assumption that it guarantees a big box office, earns critical acclaim, or wins movie awards. On the contrary, other forms of strong film content appear far more potent, either commercially or aesthetically.

Using box-office, critical response and MPAA ratings as core data, the researchers concluded that current assumptions about the marketing power of nudity and physical objectification are not only impossible to back up empirically, they may also suggest an inherent sexism in the film industry that needs to be addressed.

Initially, I assumed that more sex would equal higher box office, since everyone said 'sex sells' and I believed them, says Cerridwen, who first started her investigation a decade ago after taking acting classes.

When I first saw the averages, I was really surprised, and mad, too. I felt like I'd been had. Things came up in most of the classes that made me feel very uncomfortable (unwanted touching, sexualized content). Then I looked at the kinds of roles available for women, and that made me even more uncomfortable. So basically, I couldn't act, even if I could, because of the roles I would be expected to play, she says.

From there, Cerridwen started crunching numbers, and the initial results seemed counter-intuitive. While we might remember films with strong sexual content, especially if they did well financially, most films with ample sexual content perform worse than films with little or no sexual content. The results were even worse for films containing sexualized violence.

Citing Ang Lee's Lust, Caution the Oscar winner's 2007 feature about a psychologically and sexually sadistic affair during the Second World War the authors suggest Lee could have cut several minutes of graphic sexual content to earn a more commercial Restricted, or MPAA rating, instead of the audience-limiting NC-17 designation.

Having analyzed the data and lived with it for the past decade, Cerridwen wonders why sex remains such an important part of most scripts. It makes you wonder why it's there at all, she says: I think it reflects and reinforces sexism in society, in general. Even if the performer genuinely doesn't mind having to do this stuff as a condition of employment, it creates a hostile environment for the rest of us: other women on camera, behind the camera, in acting classes, plus women, in general.


4th April

Blaming Media...

Ten things wrong with the 'effects model'
Link Here

This article is published in Roger Dickinson, Ramaswani Harindranath & Olga Linné's, Approaches to Audiences A Reader , published by Arnold (1998)

The article provides an overview and restatement of what I was trying to say in Moving Experiences . The book examines all of the studies in detail, and generally concludes that the research has failed to show that the media has any kind of direct or predictable effects on people.

This essay takes a slightly different approach, setting out ten reasons why 'effects research' as we have seen it so far seems to be fundamentally flawed and is often surprisingly poor.

This leads to a slightly different (implicit) conclusion, that media influences are something that we still know very little about, because the research hasn't been very good or imaginative... and so, therefore, it's still an open question.

...Read full article

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