Robin L. Nabi and Shannon Clark of the University of California conducted two studies to assess whether or not televised depictions of risky sexual behaviours alter viewers' expectations of their own future sexual behaviours, regardless of their consequences
In the first study, researchers examined the contents of TV programming schemas and found that viewers expect main characters to ultimately survive and thrive despite the adversity they face. In the second study, college women were exposed to various portrayals of promiscuous sexual behaviour, such as one night stands, that were edited to display more or less positive or negative outcomes.
Portrayals of the risky behaviour were likely to affect only those without direct experience with the target behaviour. The portrayal of outcomes-good or bad-did not affect attitudes or intentions regarding that behaviour.
Specifically, for those who had not previously had a one night stand, viewing fictional depictions of this behaviour significantly increased expectations of the likelihood of having one in the future, regardless of the positive or negative outcomes portrayed.
'Even when behaviours are negatively portrayed, audiences may be motivated to model them anyways,' the authors conclude. 'We hope this research stimulates greater care in the application and testing of psychological theories to the study of media content and effects.' [LifeSiteNews]