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Descriptive Essay

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This two-part exploratory study utilized a social cognitive theory framework in documenting gender portrayals in teen movies and investigating the influence of exposure to these images on gender-based beliefs about friendships, social aggression, and roles of women in society. First, a content analysis of gender portrayals in teen movies was conducted, revealing that female characters are more likely to be portrayed as socially aggressive than male characters. Second, college students were surveyed about their teen movie-viewing habits, gender-related beliefs, and attitudes. Findings suggest that viewing teen movies is associated with negative stereotypes about female friendships and gender roles.

Research examining the effects of media exposure demonstrates that media consumption has a measurable influence on people's perceptions of the real world, and, regardless of the accuracy of these perceptions, they are used to help guide subsequent attitudes, judgments, and actions. For example, these results have been yielded for viewing media representations of race,1 the mentally ill,2 and the elderly.3 Past research additionally indicates that watching televised gender portrayals has an effect on individuals' real-world gender-based attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.4 Based on this research, and the tenets of social cognitive theory, it would be expected that consumption of teen movies would have an analogous influence on audience members' gender-based attitudes and beliefs. Despite the popularity of teen movies, the influence of such films on emerging adults has not been examined. This is particularly surprising given the upsurge in popular media coverage devoted to scrutinizing gender portrayals in these films.5 The present study explores this issue in two ways. First, the manner in which gender is depicted in teen movies is systematically documented....

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