Type of Document Dissertation Author Sarkar, Madhurima URN etd-01172011-144021 Title THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA RELATED RISK FACTORS IN PREDICTING SEXUALLY RISKY INTENTIONS AND BEHAVIORS AMONG ADOLESCENTS: A MODEL OF SEXUAL RISK TAKING Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Communication, School of; Communication Science and Disorders, School of; and the Library and Inform Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Dr. Gary Heald Committee Chair Dr. John Mayo Committee Member Dr. Juliann Cortese Committee Member Dr. Mia Lustria Committee Member Dr. Isaac Eberstein University Representative Keywords
- Media theories
- health theories
- Integrated health model
Date of Defense 2010-11-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractAlthough a number of studies have demonstrated the effects of mass media on various behaviors the systematic process of examining media related risk factors in sexual health behavior models has not been fully explored. This study offers a rationale, and several propositions and hypotheses for a more inclusive model of sexual risk taking integrating two mass media-related variables with five traditional health risks factors that appear in the current literature. The study also explores gender differences among the proposed relationships in the model.
The study tests the proposed integrated model using a secondary analysis via structural equation statistical methods applied to the Teen Media and Health Survey data. The final model supported relationships that were hypothesized based on a rationale linking several mass communication and health-related behavior theories. Findings from this study suggest that sexual intentions that are risky are strong predictor of self-reported sexual behaviors that are risky. In addition, permissive attitudes regarding sex, perceptions of peer norms that are risky, and sexual self efficacy also predict sexual intentions that are risky. This results from the study futher support the utility of impulsive decision making and sensation seeking when predicting sexual risks.
The current model and study results indicate that overall exposure to mass media was a significant antecedent of adolescentsí perceptions that media messages encourage sexual behaviors. Perceptions that media messages encourage sexual behaviors is also succesfully used to predict adolescentís permissive attitudes regarding sex, their perceptions of peer norms that are risky, and the adolsecentsí perceptions of sexual self efficacy.
The overall model is also tested in separate male/female models to examine the potential generality of the model across gender subgroups. The results indicate more similarities than differences in sexual risk taking among males and females. One notable difference is the path from mass media exposure to perceptions that media messages encourage sexual behaviors, which is appreciably stronger among females than among males. Another notable difference is that the pathway from sexual intentions that are risky to sexual behaviors that are risky, which again is stronger among females than among males.
There are several implications for interventions that arise from this study. Media exposure and perceptions of sexuality through media play an important role in adolescentsí attitudes, norms and perceptions of self efficacy. Parents, educators, health practitioners should discuss with adolescents the content of popular mass media, along with the ways that the popular media influence young audiences. Parents, teachers and health practitioners need to pay particular attention to creating messages that can combat the information that adolescent receive from mass media about sex and sexual behaviors. The most important implication may be that adults in U.S. society should take childrenís exposure to media seriously, pay attention to what their children are viewing and to become active in their communities advocating for more socially responsible media. A concerted effort can be made to reduce sexual innuendos, images and portrayals in the media.
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