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Strong female characters change feelings toward violence on television: study


A new study shows how strong female characters can mitigate TV violence's negative effects.



A new study shows that the effects of violence on television on people are reduced when a strong female character is introduced.

Researchers at Texas A&M University found that people had less anxiety and negative reactions despite violence on television if the female character was depicted as strong.

That feeling is called the "Buffy Effect" from the popular television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

"Although sexual and violent content tends to get a lot of attention, I was surprised by how little impact such content had on attitudes toward women," said lead author Christopher Ferguson, according to Medical Daily.

Buzzfeed reported that the study consisted of much TV-watching.

The study had 150 undergrads, half males and half females, watch sexually violent TV shows with passive female characters: "Tudors," "Master of Horrors."

They then showed them shows with strong women: "Buffy," "Law and Order."

After the television-watching the students were given surveys about their attitudes towards women and possible feelings of anxiety and depression.

Women showed anxiety while watching shows where they were portrayed as victims, while men had more negative views on women after these shows.

The Sun reported that strong female characters had male viewers regarding women more highly, but also showing the highest level of anxiety.

"Instead it seems to be portrayals of women themselves, positive or negative that [has] the most impact, irrespective of objectionable content. In focusing so much on violence and sex, we may have been focusing on the wrong things," said Ferguson, according to Medical Daily.

The small sample size of the data should be noted, however.