Escaping from Worries or Facing Reality: A Survey Study of Adolescent Attitudes about Sexist and Homophobic Stereotypes in Mainstream US Media

Year Published: 2017

Authors: Linda Charmaraman, Amanda Richer, Brianna Ruffin, Budnampet Ramanudom and Katie Madsen

Source: Nordicom

We examined the influences of being exposed to gender and sexual orientation stereotypes in the media on US-based adolescents aged 12-18. Departing from wishful identification theory, our study allows adolescents to report how TV characters resemble them, rather than whom they emulate, coming from a place of agency. We recruited 639 participants (85% female, 82% heterosexual) to take an online survey. Our findings demonstrated that girls and sexual minorities were less likely to see their gender and sexual orientation reflected in favorite TV characters. Girls and sexual minorities felt more personally affected by stereotypes about women and girls and were more likely to believe that sexism and homophobia needed to be addressed in the media. Across all groups, those who tend to escape their worries through watching television reported feeling more upset at TV content and being more personally affected by negative stereotypes centered on women, girls, and sexual minorities.


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