Strong female characters may negate effects of violent media

Published: Friday, Aug. 31 2012 1:22 p.m. MDT

(Left to right) Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, David Boreanaz as Angel, Eliza Dushku as Faith. A recent study suggest the negative effects of sexual violence in television may be lessened by strong, independent female leads like Buffy.

Credit: The WB/Richard Cartwright (Submission date: 03/24/2004)

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Our take: Families across the world are barraged by media messages, from violence to sexuality. As recent study by an assistant professor at Texas A&M International University is beginning to investigate the effects violence, particularly sexually violence, has on viewers. According to the small study, the effects might not be as prominent as once thought that is if a Buffy-like female lead is involved

Sexual and violent content on TV may not affect viewers attitudes as much as we thought as long as there are strong leading ladies around to save the day, a new study finds.

Study researcher Christopher Ferguson, assistant professor at Texas A&M International University, dubs this the Buffy Effect, named after the popular TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The small study included 150 college students at a southern university who agreed to participate in exchange for extra credit. The group was equally comprised of men and women, and 95 percent of the students were Hispanic. The average age of the participants was 21.

The students were randomly assigned to watch an entire episode of one of the following: a neutral show without sexual or violent content, a sexually violent show with negative depictions of women, or a sexually violent show featuring strong independent female characters.

Read more about the study results on ABCNews.

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