A study recently released in the Journal of Health Communication analyzed tv crime dramas as a potentially useful venue for prevention messages including increasing intentions to intervene in a sexual assault. “Health Promotion Messages in Entertainment Media: Crime Drama Viewership and Intentions to Intervene in a Sexual Assault Situation” suggests that “exposure to crime dramas was positively associated with intentions to intervene”. This finding took the instrumentality, rape myth acceptance, perceptions of peer’s willingness to intervene, and perceived confidence in abilities to intervene into account. Instrumentality was operationalized as confidence, decisiveness, independence, and helping behaviors.
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J Health Commun. 2012 Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print]. Health Promotion Messages in Entertainment Media: Crime Drama Viewership and Intentions to Intervene in a Sexual Assault Situation. Hust SJ, Marett EG, Lei M, Chang H, Ren C, McNab AL, Adams PM.
a Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University , Pullman , Washington , USA.
Popular crime dramas have tackled sensitive issues such as sexual assault with increasing frequency over the past 20 years. These popular programs increasingly demonstrate the emotional and physical effect of sexual assault on its victims, and in some instances they depict individuals being rewarded for intervening to prevent or stop an assault in progress. It is possible that this content could affect attitudes related to sexual assault prevention. However, no previous research has examined this possibility. In the fall 2008 semester, 508 undergraduates at a large northwestern university completed a questionnaire about media use and bystander intervention in a sexual assault situation. Results from hierarchical regressions lend support for the integrative model of behavioral prediction in that instrumentality, rape myth acceptance, perceived social norms, perceived efficacy related to intervening, and exposure to primetime crime dramas were associated with participants’ intentions to intervene in a sexual assault. The results suggest that crime dramas may be a useful venue for prevention messages as exposure to crime dramas uniquely contributed to intentions to intervene in a sexual assault.
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