One hundred ninety-three university students 87 males and females were randomly assigned to view one of four films: After viewing the film, all subjects were asked to complete a item questionnaire consisting of one of four randomly ordered presentations of the following measures: Participants then viewed a reenactment of a rape trial and completed a item rape trial questionnaire.
Results showed large and consistent differences between males and females; that is, males were more accepting of interpersonal violence and rape myths, mare attracted to sexual aggression, less sympathetic toward the rape trial victim, and less likely to judge the defendant as guilty of rape.
Of particular interest was the finding that males were equally affected by a film depicting sexual violence regardless of victim gender. On the other hand, females were not affected by film type. Studies have shown that viewing sexually aggressive films negatively influenced viewers' attitudes toward women Linz et al. The available literature also suggests that violence against women need not occur in a pornographic or sexually explicit context to have a negative effect upon viewer attitudes and behavior.
A number of independent studies have shown that following exposure to R-rated aggressive and sexually aggressive films, men treat female victims with less sensitivity, attribute less injury, are less empathic and helpful, are generally more callous and aggressive, and are more accepting of interpersonal violence and cultural stereotypes Donnerstein et al.
In one of the few studies to include both male and female subjects, Malamuth and Check found that exposure to films portraying women who benefit from sexual violence significantly increased males' but not females' acceptance of interpersonal violence. In fact, there was some indication of an opposite effect for women: Women were less accepting of rape myths and interpersonal violence after exposure to sexually violent films.
Various explanations have been offered in an attempt to explain the difference between men and women with respect to the effect of exposure to media violence and sexual violence. The victim portrayed in the sexually violent films used in research is always a female. Thus it is reasonable to assume that the men watching these films are unable or unwilling to identify with these victims. If women are less likely to be affected by exposure to these films because they more easily identify with the victims , then perhaps the same would be true of men who would view other men as victims of assault, specifically sexual assault.
In order to test this hypothesis, the present experiment exposed both males and females to one of four feature-length films: Students were recruited through bulletin board advertisements for psychology studies. Most participants received course credit in return for participation.
Apparatus All participants were asked to sign a consent form and to complete a demographic data questionnaire. The following paper-and-pencil self-report measures were administered to all subjects: In addition, a movie rating questionnaire cf. The combination of these tests resulted in a questionnaire having a total of items. All questionnaires were kept intact, but the sequence of the scales was randomized, resulting in four different orders of presentation.
The following films were used in this experiment: Two of the films Deliverance and Straw Dogs were slightly edited in order to satisfy treatment conditions, that is, certain violent segments were edited from the two sexually aggressive films to avoid confounding the sexually aggressive and physically aggressive variables. A reenactment of a rape trial i. Procedure Subjects were told that the purpose of the experiment was to compare their perceptions of films regarding a variety of topics and their attitudes on various issues, such as sex, friendship, helping behaviors, and legal issues, with those of other students.
Then all participants were asked to sign a consent form. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the four treatment conditions: Participants viewed each film in groups ranging in size from 45 to 54 people, in a comfortable classroom setting. After film viewing, subjects were given as much time as they needed to complete the item questionnaire consisting of all scales except the rape trial questionnaire.
Participants then viewed the reenacted rape trial on video. Following this, the rape trial questionnaire was administered. Upon completion of the experiment, the actual purpose of the study was explained and subjects were debriefed.
RESULTS In order to examine the effects of gender and film type, a 2 x 4 between-subjects multivariate analysis of variance MANOVA was performed on the five dependent variables--acceptance of interpersonal violence, rape myth acceptance, attraction to sexual aggression, victim sympathy, and verdict--as well as on the hostility and empathy variables. The mean scores on the Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence Scale, the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, and the Attraction to Sexual Aggression Scale as a function of the interaction of film type and gender are shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
Examination of these figures suggests large differences in response patterns between men and women. The mean scores obtained on the scales assessing victim sympathy and verdict as a function of the interaction of film type and gender are shown in Figures 4 and 5, respectively. These results also are presented in Table 1, which shows the mean scores of males and females on the various dependent variables for the main effect of gender.
In order to explore this difference, a one-way analysis of variance was conducted separately for each gender group. When data for males and females were collapsed over type of sexually violent film i. Thus it appears that males who watched either of the sexually violent films were most accepting of interpersonal violence, most attracted to sexual aggression, and showed a tendency toward being most accepting of rape myths, as compared to males who watched either the physically violent film or the neutral film, or females exposed to any film.
Finally, it is important to note that following viewing of the neutral content film, males and females did not significantly differ from each other on measures assessing acceptance of interpersonal violence, rape myth acceptance, attraction to sexual aggression, or victim sympathy.
However, when exposed to films containing sexual violence against either a male or a female , males became significantly more accepting of interpersonal violence and rape myths when compared to females. Overall, when compared to women, men were more accepting of interpersonal violence and rape myths, more attracted to sexual aggression, less sympathetic toward the rape trial victim, less likely to judge the defendant as guilty, and generally less empathic.
Further, significant differences were observed based on the interaction effect of film type and gender on the Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence Scale, as well as the measures used to assess victim sympathy and verdict. Specifically, multiple comparisons revealed that males exposed to either film depicting sexual violence against a male or a female were significantly more accepting of interpersonal violence than females who viewed any film whatsoever. With respect to victim sympathy, males exposed to sexual violence against a male were least sympathetic when compared to females exposed to films involving sexual aggression against a male or a female or neutral content, and males who viewed physical violence.
Males who watched sexual violence against a male or the neutral film were significantly less likely to convict the perpetrator than females who viewed either film depicting sexual aggression or the neutral content film. One unexpected finding was that males were generally not differentially influenced by the sex of the victim in the sexually violent films. Collapsing data for both males and females over type of sexually violent film i. Most important, this study showed significant and meaningful changes in attitude after viewing commercially available feature films.
Although females remain relatively unaffected by film type, males were most affected by the sexually aggressive films resulting in negative changes in certain attitudes toward and perceptions of women indicating that women deserve or secretly desire rape.
Malamuth and Check found that exposure to films portraying violent sexuality against women increased male subjects' acceptance of interpersonal violence against women.
Similarly, males in the present investigation, who viewed sexual violence against either a man or a woman, obtained higher scores on scales measuring acceptance of interpersonal violence and rape myth acceptance when compared to males who viewed either the physically violent film or the neutral film. Malamuth and Check also reported that viewing sexually aggressive films significantly increased men's but not women's acceptance of cultural stereotypes indicating that women deserve or secretly desire rape.
The present investigation replicated these results. It is also interesting that in the present experiment females did not seem to be affected by film type. For the moment, it is not clear why females manage to escape the influence of the information contained in either violent or sexually violent films.
By including the depiction of a male rape in the present study, we attempted to control possible "attitude polarization" or "reactance phenomenon" effects. However, because of the use of commercially available feature films, it was impossible to manipulate the extent to which male subjects identified with the male victim.
Rather, the most likely explanation of the present data is the "just world" theory. Zillmann and Bryant , also have suggested that prolonged exposure to images of women depicted as sexually promiscuous results in the trivialization of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
With respect to the results of the present research, the above-mentioned theory may partially explain the effects of exposure to sexual violence for males. Another possible explanation of these results is the concept of availability. After being exposed to the information presented in the films depicting sexual aggression, these effects are what become more readily available cognitively.
Exposure to these stimuli may have encouraged male subjects, who perhaps already upheld specific thought patterns that supported or reinforced sexual violence in others. Finally, male subjects viewing other males being sexually aggressive toward a female may simply become disinhibited against subsequent aggression toward women via desensitization or modeling effects.
Obviously, the present research presents some limitations, most of which are endemic to all laboratory studies of this nature. First, the participants in this study were all university students. Second, subjects were asked to fill out questionnaires and to act as "mock jurors" after watching a reenactment of a rape trim immediately following exposure to the various films.
Third, the films used in this study contained particular types of violence; it is important to examine who the violence is directed at and how the victims are depicted.
In addition, it would be interesting to vary both the number and type of films, as well as the time interval between movie viewing and the dependent measure tasks. The use of a more objective measure, such as the Buss-Durkee Hostility Paradigm, as well as measuring physiological arousal during exposure to sexually violent films, also would be beneficial.
We wish to thank William Tooke for his assistance in conducting the research and Martin Lalumiere for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript and for his patience and kindness. Reprint requests should be sent to C. Sex differences in university students' attitudes toward rape. Journal of College Student Personnel, 2, Some effects of thoughts on anti- and prosocial influence of media events: A cognitive neoassociation approach.
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