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1 How Do Teenage Girls Use Media to Shape Ideas about Love & Romance? u A Study of Teenaged Girls Romantic Identities.

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Presentation on theme: "1 How Do Teenage Girls Use Media to Shape Ideas about Love & Romance? u A Study of Teenaged Girls Romantic Identities."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 How Do Teenage Girls Use Media to Shape Ideas about Love & Romance? u A Study of Teenaged Girls Romantic Identities

2 2 Introduction n If we can better understand what role the media play in how girls think about love and romance, we will be better able to develop sexual health messages. Media Romantic beliefs Sexual risks

3 3 Specific Aims n Assess need: u how do young girls use media to shape attitudes and beliefs about romance? n Plan strategy: u develop & test audience segmentation strategy based on romantic beliefs n Design message: u whats media environment? u pilot an educational web site

4 4 Sexual Risk for Teen Girls n Girls twice as likely as boys to get common STDs n Girls ages 15-19 highest gonorrhea rates in U.S. n Asymptomatic infections harder to diagnose n Long-term complications more serious n Young women have special risk: u thinner cervical mucus u multiple partners n Less negotiating power in relationships CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 1994; 5:1-36. Germain A, Wasserheit J, eds. Reproductive Tract Infections: Global Impact and Priorities for Womens Reproductive Health. New York: Plenum Press, 1992.

5 5 Sexual Media Content n Media scripts convey frequent messages about love & sex, but few mention risks and responsibilities. n Prime-time TV: 1 in 10 scenes mention risks, protection or consequences n Internet: 2.2 million sites on sex education (most are pornographic) Advocates for Youth. Talking with TV. Washington: Advocates for Youth, 1996. Dale K, et al. Sexual Messages on Family Hour TV: Content and Context. Santa Barbara: Children Now, Kaiser Family Foundation, 1996. Huston, Wartella & Donnsertein, 1998.

6 6 Dominant Sexual Scripts n Traditional script (in Seventeen Magazine) u precludes: F sex outside marriage F female desire & pleasure u promotes: F heterosexual orientation F intercourse (over other sexual acts) Carpenter, L. (1998). From girls to women: Scripts for sexuality and romance in Seventeen Magazine, 1974-1994. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 2, 158-169.

7 7 Dominant Romantic Scripts n Recreational orientation to sex (on prime-time TV): u cheating; scoring u stealing partners u fighting over dates n Relational orientation to sex: u emphasis on love & happiness Ward, L.M. (1995). Talking about sex: Common themes about sexuality in the prime-time television programs children and adolescents view most. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 24(5), 595-616.

8 8 Media Effects n Girls who accept dominant romantic script(s) may be vulnerable to greater sexual risks: u Focus group research shows that girls who idealize romance are least likely to plan out sexual encounters and use contraception. u Longitudinal study finds girls who subscribe to traditional female stereotypes initiate sexual intercourse earlier. Thompson, 1995; Foshee & Bauman, 1992.

9 9 Reactions to Romantic Content Vary n Not all girls get the same messages. n Adolescents seem to cluster into distinct categories of romantic or sexual beliefs. n These categories may be correlated with specific patterns of media use. Thompson, 1995; Pipher, 1994; Brown, White and Nikopoulou, 1993; Buzwell & Rosenthal, 1996.

10 10 Can Adolescent Girls Be Segmented by Identity? n Categories of girls relationship behavior (Thompson, 1995) u Romantic idealists u Hell-raisers u Sporting Girls u Players u Fast-track career girls u Mothers n How girls use sexual media ( Steele & Brown, 1995) u Disinterested u Intrigued/Conformers u Resisters u ?

11 11 Research Questions R1. Can a coherent set of Romantic Identities be distinguished among early adolescent girls? R2. What role do media play in development of young girls Romantic Identities?

12 12 Research Design n Focus groups u segment audience u identify need u design web site n Written questionnaire u pilot test measures n Web pilot test u refine sites effectiveness

13 13 Sample n Number: u Focus groups (n = 7 groups x 2-12 = 46) u Survey (n = 128) u Web pilot-test (n = 26) n Age: 11-15 n Gender: Female n Subgroup: Upper middle-class, middle-class and low- income, white & African-American. n Location: Teen programs & schools in North Carolina & New York

14 14 Focus Groups n Focus group questions: u what romantic/sexual messages do you get from the media? u how do you think about love and romance? u what messages would you prefer to see? n Media exercises u select images from magazines u view and discuss prime-time TV clips Assessing need, defining the audience & designing the message

15 15 Survey n Written questionnaire u Romantic Identity Typology - F asks respondents to rate how much they are like or not like each of 6 romantic identity types u Dating expectations - F asks respondents to rate how important they perceive each of 6 qualities of dating to be u Open-ended media questions n External validity checked in individual interviews

16 16 Web Pilot Test n Students convened in computer labs n Each given PC and web site n Navigated individually for 10-15 minutes n Group debriefing on: u usefulness, like/dislike, and suggestions u did they relate to any Romantic Identity Types? u if so, which ones did they pick and why?



19 I get sad when I listen to songs about heart- break. I'm happy when I hear songs about true love. Sometimes I feel both emotions at once, like with "Angels in Disguise," by Brandy. It's such a pretty song. Everyone should hear it. More about me... I'm sort of a romantic idealist...

20 I dont think everyone should try too hard to find love. Itll just happen. We talked with some other girls our age and came up with some ideas about how media messages could be improved.

21 Well, after thinking about the whole love issue some more, we decided that: Media should give us information about other stuff, like conservation and killing of the whales. There should be a news show by teenagers, instead of Dan Rather. Everyone wants to find a match, but you shouldnt think about love all the time.

22 22 Results n Focus Groups u Three readings n Surveys u Descriptives u Bivariate analysis u independent t-tests n Web pilot-test u Qualitative data analysis

23 23 Focus Group Results n Identity types & media preferences: Girls chose magazine images that related to their self- assigned Romantic Identity categories u I chose this image because shes kind of weird-looking and strange. Because shes out there, kind of weird looking, like me. - 13-year-old Raleigh girl, rated as Independent Thinker u I picked this girl, cuz she looks kind of mad, like something just got on her nerves, and Im having a bad day today, so I can relate to her. - A self-described Hell- raiser from Raleigh, age 11.

24 24 Focus Group Results (contd) n Romantic media content: Girls agreed that TV and magazines idealize romantic relationships, but disagreed about whether that should be different. u Life is about relationships. Sex is part of relationships. What else would the show [Dawsons Creek] be about? - Romantic Idealist. u Except you never see family relationships on TV, - Shy Girl. u It might make you more depressed cuz you realize that you dont have it. Family. Cuz you didnt have a good family situation, or not many friends, - Independent Thinker.

25 25 Frequencies of Romantic Identity Types (n=128) Percentage of girls ages 11-15 who rated themselves just like each type, on a scale from 1-4.

26 26 Psychometric Evaluation n Internal reliability: u Are Romantic Identity Types correlated with each other? u Most categories appear distinct: F Sporting Girl negatively correlated with Romantic Idealists (r = -.362, p =.000). u Some categories overlap: F Mothers & Players positively correlated with each other (r =.256, p =.006) F Sporting Girls & Fast-track Career Girls (r =.355, p =.000)

27 27 Psychometric Evaluation n Concurrent construct validity: u Are identity types correlated with: F dating salience? F dating expectations? F media uses?

28 28 Identity Types & Dating u Dating salience: F Dating salience was correlated with high score on Romantic Idealist & Player questions F Romantic Idealists and Players said dating was VERY important (r =.391, p =.000; r =.402, p =.000). F Sporting & Career Girls said dating was NOT important (r = -.490, p =.000; r = -.235, p =.002).

29 29 Identity Types & Dating n Dating expectations: u Dimensions were correlated with Romantic Identity Types as expected u Sporting Girls said friendship was important (r =.247, p =.023), but NOT romance and passion (r = -.234, -.232, p =.003). u Romantic Idealists and Players chose passion and romance as important (r =.210, r =.320; r =.245, r =.392, p =.000). u Love was rated highly by Players (r =.251), but less highly by Romantic Idealists (r =.134).

30 30 Media Use & Romantic Beliefs n Girls who watched more TV tended to rate involvement in dating relationships as more important n TV hours and dating salience were positively correlated (r =.195, p =.02) n Saturday TV watching and dating salience were even more related (r =.427, p <.01)

31 31 Media Use & Romantic Identity n Web: u Sporting Girls F music uses of web (e.g., u Players & Romantic Idealists F chat rooms (Teen Chat or Black Voices Teen) u Fast-track Career Girls F other uses of web (e.g.,,

32 32 Romantic Identity Types Media Preferences (n=128)

33 33 Web Pilot Results n Identity types resonated with web users: u I like the Rebel page and the Romantic Idealist page. I like the Rebel, because it says you dont always have to like what everyone else likes. You dont have to agree with everyone elses opinions. I liked the Romantic Idealist because it reminds me of myself. - African-American girl, 13, East Harlem Secondary School n Identity choices shown to be transient - Girls often identified with more than one category.

34 34 Discussion n R1: Is it possible to distinguish Romantic Identities among young teen girls using this Typology? Yes. u Respondents from diverse backgrounds grouped into each category (except Hell- raisers). u Variations for race & age not significant - except for Sporting Girls. u Overlap may indicate the types represent dimensions rather than complete selves.

35 35 Discussion n R2: Do teen girls use media to shape ideas about romance, love & relationships? Yes, but exactly how is not yet clear. u Identity types had somewhat different patterns of media use. u Early adolescent girls agreed media place a heavy emphasis on love and romance. u Heavy TV viewers tended to place more importance on dating.

36 36 Discussion n Web pilot test comments indicate that Romantic Identity Typology may be a useful audience segmentation strategy for delivering health communication messages to female adolescents.

37 37 Future Research n Evaluate a revised version of web site for impact on sexual beliefs and attitudes u use experimental design u use online questionnaire to measure baseline & post-test variables n Incorporate web site into media literacy curriculum and evaluate for impact u use dependent variables derived from focus group data - relationship salience, romantic self-esteem and media critical awareness

38 38 Future Research n Test audience segmentation strategy - i.e., the Romantic Identity Typology u with representative sample of teen Internet users u with an educational web intervention that is evaluated for impact

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