Sunday, June 24, 2018
Stay connected with us

Home > Mental Health

Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Sexual Behavior in Adolescence

Update Date: Jul 19, 2012 10:23 AM EDT
Close

According to a new study, sex scenes in movies influence teens' sexual behavior.

The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

Researchers evaluated the sexual content of top-grossing movies released between 1998 and 2004, and then asked more than 1,200 kids, aged 12 to 14, which of the movies they had seen.

Once the participants turned 18, they were surveyed to about how old they were when they became sexually active and whether they engaged in risky sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms consistently and having multiple partners.

According to the study's findings, teens who were exposed to more sexual content in movies started having sex at younger ages, had more sex partners and were less likely to use condoms with casual sex partners.

Researcher Ross O'Hara said he hopes this study will help understand the role of movies.

"Much research has shown that adolescents' sexual attitudes and behaviors are influenced by media," O'Hara said. "But the role of movies has been somewhat neglected, despite other findings that movies are more influential than TV or music."

Researchers found that greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age led to a higher peak of sensation-seeking in adolescents. Among kids who are exposed to sex scenes in movies, sensation-seeking sexual behavior can last well into the late teens and even into the early 20s.

However, researchers said that the research does not prove a direct causal effect of movies on sexual behavior.

"These movies appear to fundamentally influence their personality through changes in sensation-seeking, which has far-reaching implications for all of their risk-taking behaviors," O'Hara said.

These researchers examined the role of a personality trait known as sensation-seeking. One of the great dangers of adolescence, is the predisposition for "sensation seeking" behavior. Between the ages of ten and fifteen, the tendency to seek more novel and intense stimulation of all kinds peaks. The wild hormonal surges of adolescence make judicious thinking a bit more difficult.

O'Hara and his colleagues found that greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age actually led to a higher peak in sensation seeking during adolescence. As a result, sensation seeking sexual behavior can last well into the late teens and even into the early twenties if young people are exposed to these kinds of movies. But researchers point out that sexual exposure in movies tends to activate sensation seeking both because of biology and the way that boys and girls are socialized.

"These movies appear to fundamentally influence their personality through changes in sensation-seeking, which has far-reaching implications for all of their risk-taking behaviors," O'Hara said.

Researchers said that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages.

See Now: What Republicans Don't Want You To Know About Obamacare

Get the Most Popular Stories in a Weekly Newsletter
© 2017 Counsel & Heal All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation