Subverting the sexual double standard: how exposure to and identification with characters in televised counter sexual scripts affect young women's sexual well-being Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Ortiz, Rebecca R.
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • Television is a major source of sexual scripts for adolescents and young adults. This dissertation examined how exposure to and identification with characters in sexual scripts that either reinforce or subvert a heterosexual script affect young adult female viewers' agreement with the sexual double standard (i.e., different rules of appropriate sexual behavior for males and females) and their sexual self-concepts (i.e., how they view themselves as sexual beings). An experiment with a 3 (script: dominant heterosexual script, equal desire counter script, or equal love counter script) X 2 (manipulation: character identification or no identification), plus control group, between-subjects factorial design was conducted. One hundred and sixty-two female undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 23 (M =20.41) completed an online pre-test questionnaire about one week before exposure. After exposure in the laboratory to a randomly-assigned sexual script or control video that did not include any sexual scripts, participants completed an immediate post-test questionnaire. The identification manipulation was unsuccessful and therefore all participants were examined by their level of identification as measured in the post-test questionnaire. Main findings include exposure to the equal desire counter script increased participants' sexual optimism, belief that their future sex lives will be positive and rewarding. Exposure to the equal desire counter script also increased the sexual self-efficacy of participants who had engaged in casual sex and the sexual esteem of participants who had engaged in sex. Exposure to any of the sexual scripts increased participants' agreement with the sexual double standard the more they identified with the male character than with the female. Results indicate that exposure to counter sexual scripts that highlight gender equality between sexual partners may influence young female viewers positively by strengthening their sexual self-concepts, especially for participants with previous sexual experience. Viewing sexual scripts from a male character's perspective, however, can negatively influence female viewers by reinforcing agreement with sexual stereotypes. Given that identification with different characters affected the outcomes of viewing sexual scripts, health communicators should pay close attention to the role that identification plays in persuasive and narrative communication.
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  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mass Communication in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Brown, Jane D.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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