Saturday, October 24, 2015

TV Teaches You Stuff

Of course once again I had to read about a study done literally across the road, okay mountains with regards to what defines consent when applied to sexual assault.

And what did not surprise me was the role in fiction TV plays in how people learn and understand about crime. And this pits the popular SUV whoops I mean SVU against the equally superior and truly authentic CSI and NCIS. Those are the same people who later when they become prospective Jurors in criminal trials understand and know all the intricacies of forensic science, including flawed DNA testing, to my personal favorite,  junk sciences such as bite mark and lie detectors. They really need to let Jurors bring in Magic 8 Balls when they are debating a guilty verdict as it is about the equivalent of actual debate over an individuals guilt or innocence.

This is America where all we need to do to learn about science and the law is watch TV. Well I am watching Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson so I am pretty sure my physics credentials are secure.

Law & Order fans understand consent better than CSI and NCIS viewers – study

Washington State University research looked at how college freshmen processed sexual consent and rape myths based on popular crime drama story lines

Mahita Gajanan in New York
The Guardian
24 October 2015 08.

Viewers of Law & Order have a better understanding of sexual consent than viewers of other popular crime shows like CSI or NCIS, a new study has found.

Researchers at Washington State University published in the Journal of Health Communication the study, which showed a connection between how sexual violence is portrayed on crime dramas and how people view sexual consent.

Through surveys of 313 college freshmen, focused on the most popular crime drama franchises – Law & Order, CSI and NCIS – the study found that those who watched Law & Order were more likely to support their partner’s decision about whether to have sex, to say no to unwanted sexual activity, and were less likely to buy into rape myths.

Watching CSI decreased intentions to seek consent and to stick to expressions of consent. Exposure to NCIS produced a more neutral reaction.

The researchers surveyed college freshmen because sexual violence is a growing problem on college campuses, and freshmen are the most vulnerable grouping therein. The researchers hypothesized that the results came out as they did because of the story lines that crop up on each franchise, said Stacey Hust, the lead author.

Plots on series like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit focus on the issue of consent, the deconstruction of rape myths and show endings in which perpetrators are punished.

“You see the prosecutor trying the criminal in the courtroom,” Hust told the Guardian, referring to Law & Order: SVU. “Oftentimes, the criminal is found guilty.”

Through the application of social cognitive theory, the researchers concluded that individuals who watch a television program and see a punishment that fits a crime will then avoid criminal behavior, so as to avoid punishment.

On the other hand, story lines within the CSI franchise often do not show punishment. CSI is intended to focus on the investigators and crime scenes. The victim is usually deceased and the plot tends to depend on an elusive and smart villain.

“The viewer doesn’t see that the criminal is caught, and certainly doesn’t see that the criminal is punished,” Hust said.

Furthermore, the manner in which both franchises depict and deal with sexual assault are different. SVU portrays sexual violence but also talks specifically about consent and the gray areas surrounding it within its plot lines, without judgment of its characters.

Rape is a common trope on television, but only recently have studies focused on its effect on viewers’ perception of consent and assault. With SVU’s emphasis on the judicial process and plots of sexual assault centered on characters who are not drawn to be chaste, viewers gain an understanding of issues surrounding sexual violence.

“I think viewers get a greater chance to think about consent when they watch Law & Order,” Hust said. “It’s a part of the dialogue and plot, and it influences their thoughts about it.”

Hurst said CSI tends to portray sexual assault somewhat stereotypically, and in a way that ends up blaming the victim. As an example, she said an assault will occur in an episode after a woman leaves a window unlocked or a drink unattended.

While the researchers could not say watching Law & Order caused an increased awareness around consent, Hust said there was a definite association – and that association could be applied to teaching the processes of consent.

“It suggests that just talking about consent won’t result in positive outcomes,” Hust said. “Showing that people who make poor decisions related to concern receive punishment or conversely, rewarding those people who make healthy consent decisions – that can be applied to real-life interventions.”

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