A new study has found that television programs influence the sexual expectations of young men and women in different ways.
The article, published in Communication Monographs and carried out by Hilary Gamble and Lesley R. Nelson aims to provide insight into how young people’s attitudes and expectations about sex develop.
The pair began with the concern that “emerging men and women” may have incompatible sexual expectations for their current and future relationships due to the different messages sent out by TV programs.
So, to evaluate the effects of “relationship television” – programs which feature romantic relationships and themes – the researchers asked 200 students aged between 18 and 25 to reveal how often they watched certain shows and how realistic they thought they were.
They also asked the students to answer a series of questions about how their experiences in relationships compared with their expectations.
Contrary to their expectations, they found that as women’s “relationship television” viewing increased, so did their expectations for sexual interaction in their relationship.
On the other hand, men’s expectations for sexual interaction in their relationship remained consistent.
The authors wrote: “This finding was surprising given the … literature that says women should be less concerned with sex than men and should expect more intimacy in their relationships.
“Women’s sexual expectations may be more influenced by their television viewing than men because so many messages about sex on television relate to men’s sexual insatiability.”
During the study, Gamble and Nelson also linked the “ceiling effect” to the difference in young men and women’s expectations.
They wrote: “Men reported higher sexual expectations in relationships compared to women, therefore it may have been more difficult for men’s relationship television viewing to predict any additional sexual expectations over and above those they have formed from other sources.
“Women’s reported sexual expectations had room to vary, and their relationship television viewing was able to predict some of this variance.”
Yet overall, their results suggest that “relationship television” could in fact reduce the difference between men and women’s sexual expectations in relationships.
Read the full article here.