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Subject: AEJ 99 LeoneR MCS MPAA film ratings: Disservice to parents?
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Date:Sun, 3 Oct 1999 04:59:02 EDT
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MPAA Film Ratings




MPAA Film Ratings:
Are they a Disservice to Parents?















Ron Leone
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University













1202 Wake Robin Road
Lincoln, RI 02865
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
401-333-9020

 ABSTRACT



MPAA Film Ratings:
Are they a Disservice to Parents?

        The MPAA claims that film ratings are a guide for parents when deciding what
movies their children can see. One criticism of the MPAA is that--despite
evidence suggesting that violent content is more harmful to children than sexual
conent--they "target" sex.  Here, it is hypothesized that parents of minors will
have different opinions about children and sexual or violent film content than
other adults.  A telephone survey of 368 adults in Onandaga County, NY was
conducted and used to test the hypotheses, which received limited support.

 MPAA Film Ratings:
Are they a Disservice to Parents?

INTRODUCTION
        In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) replaced the
Production Code with an age-based ratings system.  MPAA president Jack Valenti
formed the Code (later Classification) and Ratings Administration (CARA) to
review films and assign them a rating.  Since most of the board members were at
least 50 years old, Valenti also instituted a student intern program and added
two people in their twenties to CARA.  One of them, Stephen Farber, would become
one of  the first and most vocal critics of the ratings system.  After leaving
CARA six months into a one-year appointment, Farber wrote The Movie Rating Game.
In it, he claimed that "much of the classification was actually done with an eye
to what disturbs adults [his emphasis].  G-rated [suitable for general
audiences] movies were not necessarily those most suitable for children; they
were the ones the board considered least likely to offend adults" (p. 31).
         Today, the board is different but the criticism remains the same.  Valenti
replaced the Production Code veterans and mental health professionals that
served on the  original board with "non-professionals" meeting the following
criteria (www.mpaa.org/movieratings/ about/content3, 1996, p.1):
[They] must have a shared parenthood experience, must be possessed of an
intelligent maturity, and most of all, have the capacity to put themselves in
the role of most American parents so they can view a film and apply a rating
that most parents would find suitable and helpful in aiding their decisions
about their children's movie going.

In their study of and recommendations for changes in the ratings system, Wilson,
Linz, and Randall (1990) concur with Farber, but change one key term.  They
agree that the current ratings system is not based on what is harmful to
children, but "what is offensive to parents" [my emphasis] (p. 443).  The
authors' word choice reflects a change in emphasis from adults to parents that
parallels the shift in  CARA's make-up.  And in the eyes of the MPAA, it's
parents that matter (www.mpaa.org/movieratings/about/ content3, 1996, p. 1):
The MPAA's goal is to offer parents advance information about films so that they
can decide what movie they want their children to see or not to see....If you
are 18 or over, or if you have no children, the rating system has no meaning for
you. Ratings are meant for parents, no one else.

        The primary areas of content that the Ratings Board examines in a film are
violence, language, nudity, sensuality, and drug abuse as well as overall theme,
with no special emphasis on any one element
(www.mpaa.org/movieratings/about/content3, 1996, p. 1).  Despite this, a
culturally based double standard exists placing a higher emphasis on keeping
depictions of sexuality than violence away from the eyes of children.  In fact,
two studies include this double standard as one of their assumptions (Wilson,
Linz & Randall, 1990; Linz, Wilson & Donnerstein, 1992).
        The purpose of this paper is to incorporate Wilson, Linz and Randall's
assumption about the MPAA's double standard into an argument against their
"offensive to parents" claim.  I believe that parents support the MPAA's greater
restrictions on movies' sexual content (over violent content) because they fear
that their minor children will imitate the sexual content more than they fear
imitation of violent content, but not because the parents themselves are
offended by it.
THEORY
        Following the lead of Fr. Daniel Lord and Martin Quigley, the Catholic authors
of the original Motion Picture Production Code, film historian Frank Miller
calls film sex and violence "sins that attract" and "sins that repel"
respectively (p. 52).  Miller reflects the early Catholic watchdogs' awareness
of the potentially different effects of  film sex and violence on people.  Lord
and Quigley were troubled by the increasing amounts of  sex in 1930s films being
used to attract viewers of all ages.   These criticisms have never subsided.
        If film sex is a "sin that attracts," wouldn't it be attractive to parents as
well as non-parents?  Further, wouldn't its counter, violence (a "sin that
repels"), be more offensive to adults?  In one random phone survey, researchers
asked 304 Seminole County, Florida, adults if they were willing to ban various
forms of sexual, violent and sexually violent media, including films (Fisher,
Cook & Shirkey, 1994).  They found that over 70% of respondents supported
censoring sexually violent media, about half supported censoring nonsexual
violent media, and about one third supported censoring nonviolent sexually
explicit movies (Fisher, Cook & Shirkey, 1994).  The results show  support for
banning the various types of media completely (for children and adults), but
there is more support for censoring nonsexual, violent media than nonviolent,
sexually explicit movies.   Put simply, the adults who took part in this survey
were more troubled by portrayals of violence than portrayals of sex in the
media.
        If media portrayals of violence offend adults more than media portrayals of
sex, why do the parents who assign ratings to films for CARA emphasize sex over
violence?  When Miramax sued the MPAA over the X rating given to Pedro
Almodovar's Atame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!), Supreme Court Justice Charles E.
Ramos criticized the MPAA's rating system (1990):
An often leveled criticism of the MPAA is that violence in films is condoned to
a far greater extent than displays of sexual activity.  Without professional
guidance or input, it may well be that the interests of children are not
adequately protected, or are even endangered by providing [a cover] of
acceptability to extremely violent and psychologically damaging films (p. 18).

Ultimately, Ramos arrived at a similar conclusion as Wilson, et al. (1990):
specifically,  that the MPAA allows more violent material than sexual material
into the films it assigns a rating to, and that the violent material can
potentially cause more harm to children than the sexual material.
        Media portrayals of violence and how it affects the viewer are the topic of
more  media effects studies than any other subject (Bryant & Zillmann, 1996).
On the other hand, media portrayals of sexually explicit material and how they
affect the viewer is a more elusive study topic, especially when examining
non-pornographic films. Researchers have primarily examined the effects of
pornography on people's (mostly men's) behavior.  In a meta-analysis summarizing
the effects of pornography, Allen, D'Alessio & Brezgel (1995) found that various
authors "disagreed about the nature of the effect of exposure to pornography on
the subsequent behavior of individuals" (p. 259).  Even the terminology assigned
to sexually explicit material is not agreed upon.  In the same article, Allen,
et al. define pornography as
media material used or intended to increase sexual arousal.  Such material
generally has verbal or visual images of exposed sexual organs and depictions of
sexual behaviors....Generally, researchers ...label this...as obscenity,
sexually arousing material, erotica, cheesecake, beefcake, and of course,
pornography [their italics] (p. 259).

Other authors (Malamuth, 1993; Senn & Radtke, 1990; Steinem, 1980) make
distinctions between pornography and erotica (quoted in Malamuth, 1993):
"Erotica is defined as images that have as their focus the depiction of mutually
pleasurable sexual expression between people who have enough power to be there
by positive choice [with] no sexist or violent connotations and portray equal
power dynamics between individuals as well as between the model(s) and the
camera/photographer" (p. 572).  Pornography suggests an unbalanced power
relationship, or involves sexually explicit depictions that degrade individuals
(Malamuth, 1993; Senn & Radtke, 1990).  In effects experiments, researchers have
distinguished between sexually explicit and degrading films versus sexually
explicit and non-degrading films with conflicting results (Allen, et al., 1995;
Demare, Lips, & Briere, 1993; Fisher & Grenier, 1994; Intons-Peterson,
Roskos-Ewoldsen, Thomas, Shirley, & Blut, 1989; Linz, Donnerstein & Penrod,
1988).  Some researchers (Malamuth, 1993; Allen, et al., 1995) make distinctions
within the content of pornography based on the Attorney General's Commission on
Pornography (1986) as: nudity, nonviolent sexual behavior and violent sexual
behavior. In terms of the MPAA and movie ratings, perhaps the simplest
distinction between pornographic material and non-pornographic material is that
sexual acts that are simulated in non-pornographic movies are shown in
pornographic movies.  On a more pragmatic level, distributors of pornography are
not members of the MPAA and are not required to submit their films for a rating.
In terms of this study, I am interested in films that are submitted to the MPAA
and assigned a rating, not pornography.
        Researchers have examined fright reactions to scary movies.  Cantor, perhaps
the leading researcher in this area (1994), defines fright as "an immediate
emotional response [her italics] that is typically of relatively short
duration....The focus here is on emotional reactions involving...anxiety,
distress, and increased physiological arousal" (p. 214).  The MPAA added PG-13
to its rating in the wake of especially frightening scenes in Indiana Jones and
the Temple of Doom and Gremlins as a guide to further assist parents in deciding
what's appropriate for their children.[1]  It is important to remember that
unlike the R rating, PG-13 does not restrict admittance to a film by children,
regardless of their age.  Wilson, Hoffner & Cantor (1987) found that
approximately 75% of children in two separate samples reported being scared by
something they saw on television or in a movie.  Cantor and Reilly (1982) found
that parents' estimates of the frequency of their children's fright reactions to
media were significantly lower than their children's self-reports.  They also
found that parents' estimates of their children's level of exposure to
frightening media were also significantly lower than children's self-reports,
based primarily on different definitions of what's considered scary.  Sparks
(1986b) reported that almost 50% of the 4- to 10-year olds he interviewed had
seen PG-rated films Poltergeist and Jaws, and many had seen the R-rated films
Halloween and Friday the 13th at home.
        "Slasher" films like Halloween and Friday the 13th have also been the subject
of content analyses.   Donnerstein, Linz and Penrod (1987) claim that "while the
sex is not explicit [in slasher films], but merely suggestive, the violence is
graphically displayed and is overwhemingly directed at women" (p. 113).  Others
challenged the assertion that slasher-film violence is focused on women, but
note that female victims spend a longer time suffering on-screen than male
victims (Cowan & O'Brien, 1990; Weaver, 1991; Molitor & Sapolsky, 1993).  In
these studies, the results were mixed regarding the link between sexual and
violent content in slasher films.
        Some studies have been conducted using adolescents and their mechanisms for
coping with (Hoffner, 1997: Hoffner, 1995), enjoyment of (Oliver, 1993) and
motivations for viewing (Johnston, 1995) horror films.  Finding studies that
focus on adolescents' exposure to sexual material is much more difficult.
Bryant (1985) provides some useful results about teenagers' exposure to sexually
explicit media.  In a stratified survey, he talked to 600 people divided into
three age groups: 13-15 years old, 16-18 years old, and 19-39 years old.  Each
group was comprised of 100 men and 100 women.   Bryant (1985) found that nearly
70% of 13-15 year olds reported exposure to an average of 6.3 sexually oriented
R-rated films before the age of 13, and 92% of 13-15 year olds had already seen
such a film, with an average first exposure at 14 years, 8 months.   Malamuth
and Billings (1986) found that male adolescents' quantity of exposure to
pornography may not tell the entire story: "People raised with little education
about sexuality or in families in which sex is treated as taboo may be more
susceptible to the influences of certain types of explicit media than people
reared with considerable education about sex" (quoted in Malamuth, 1993, p.
570).  Malamuth (1993) points out that "people without much sex education may be
more apt to use explicit media as a primary source of information" (p. 570).
One study found that a sample of 14-17 year olds found media second only to
friends as a primary source of sexual information, ahead of parents, school or
church (Greenberg, Linsangan, & Soderman, 1993).
        Children and exposure to R-rated films were the subject of a Michigan study.
Among the findings in the study were: male and female 14- and 15-year-olds
reported having seen 7 of the 50 most popular R-rated movies in the past 3 years
in a theater; boys and girls were equally likely to rent R-rated videos; and
boys were more likely than girls to choose R-rated movies on standard or pay
cable television channels (Greenberg, Ku & Li, 1989).  One survey examining
adolescents' exposure to sexual material does indicate that adolescents see
almost twice as many R-rated films than films of all other ratings combined
(Buerkel-Rothfuss, Strouse, Pettey & Shatzer, 1993).  Movies generally contain
more explicit portrayals of sex than television programs, with the typical
90-minute R-rated film including between 14 and 21 intimate sex acts, and unlike
television, often visually portrayed (Brown, Greenberg & Buerkel-Rothfuss,
1993).  Through content analyses of R-rated films, Greenberg, Siemicki and
Dorfman (1993) found that virtually every R-rated film contains at least one
nude scene, and some of adolescents' favorites (Porky's, Fast Times at Ridgemont
High) contain as many as 15 instances of sexual intercourse in a single film.
Yang and Linz (1990) found that R-rated movies contained 5 times more violent
and/or sexually violent activities than either X-rated or XXX-rated movies.
Stated simply, most adolescents are viewing R-rated films that contain sexual,
violent or sexually violent content.
        Do these films inspire imitation by adolescents?  Is the MPAA's double standard
grounded in the fear of adolescent imitation of film sex, the "sin that
attracts?"   According to Malamuth (1989), the "effects" issue is "by no means
simple, direct imitation" (Quoted in Malamuth, 1993, p. 569).  But, the fear of
imitation of film sex may explain why parents are more concerned with keeping
those portrayals away from their children's eyes than portrayals of violence.
This brings us back to this paper's titular question: "Do parents' attitudes
reflect the MPAA's bias?"  Or, is the reverse true?
Fear of Imitation
        Albert Bandura's (1979) social learning theory provides the ideal framework for
the discussion of the effects of media images on behavior.  Bryant and Zillmann
(1996) describe four conditions for social learning of media violence:
The violent behavior of the actor must be seen, read, or listened to
(attentional process); cognitive representations of the violent behavior must be
retained (retention process); the learner must have the potential to replicate
the action (production processes); and the learner must have sufficient desire
or will to perform the violent behavior that was witnessed (motivational
processes) (p. 197).

Better known as "imitation," Bandura (1994) links learned behaviors to observing
media violence.  Though theories dealing with cognitive and emotional effects of
media violence are often examined, the locus of this discussion is behavioral
effects, specifically the notion of imitation.
        Researchers' examination of  the behavioral effects of sexually explicit
content is a more tenuous situation.  Specifically, most experimental work
involves pornography and does not involve children.  By MPAA ratings alone, the
theatrically released versions do not qualify as pornography.  More importantly,
the major distinction between pornographic films and non-pornographic films is
that the former shows penetration while the latter simulates it.  Unlike
experiments involving violent content linked to aggressive behavior like
Bandura's Bobo doll experiments (Bandura, 1965; Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963;
Bandura & Walters, 1963), ethical considerations prohibit experiments involving
sexually explicit material and children (perhaps paralleling the culturally
based MPAA bias).  For this reason, studies involving adolescents' exposure to
R-rated or pornographic material have been restricted to survey research,
investigating correlational rather than causal hypotheses.
        Imitation of viewed violence is an often-used behavioral approach to studying
the effects of different media on adolescents, the basic rationale being that
children watch (television or film) characters solve problems with violence and
subsequently may learn that this is an appropriate way to behave.  What if the
same standard is applied to sexual content and children's behavior?  Looking
again at the four processes involved with social learning of media violence,
they appear to apply equally well to media sexual content.  The first
step--sexual content being seen--is a central issue in this study.  If the MPAA
is determined to prevent viewing of a film's most graphic or explicit sexual
content, evidenced by the content's presence in a director's cut videocassette,
are they trying to halt the process of social learning and the possibility for
imitation?  Discussion of the remaining components of social learning further
illustrates why the answer to this question may be "yes."  Regarding the
retention process, it can be argued that sequences with the most graphic sexual
content can be a film's most memorable, and therefore most readily retained.
        It's the final two components that may provide the strongest support for the
idea that the MPAA is more concerned with sexual content than violent content.
Called the production and motivational processes, they deal with the learner's
replicability of viewed material and the learner's desire to perform the
behavior (respectively).  Does anything better characterize adolescents in the
early years of sexual maturity than the realization of sexual ability and the
desire to act upon it?
        Martin (1996) conducted interviews with teenage and young adult men and women
about puberty and first sexual experiences, and found that boys and girls
experience these differently.  She found that girls have greater feelings of
awkwardness and objectification than boys, created by the onset of menstruation
and breast development.  Similarly, she found that while boys equate feeling
grown up and masculine with first sexual experience, girls often feel confused
and unsure of themselves.
        Yet both groups experience their first sexual intercourse at an average age of
less than 17 (Zelnik & Shah, 1983), the minimum age the MPAA has established for
unchaperoned admittance to an R-rated film.  With adolescents, it is not
unreasonable to think that Bandura's notion of imitation can be applied more
appropriately to sexual content than to violent content.  For this age group,
the ability to act violently has been present for substantially longer than the
ability to act sexually, whereas the opposite is true of sexual behaviors.  The
"newness" of sex, along with a biological desire to behave sexually, make the
fear of imitation (by adolescents) a major concern of the CARA "parents with no
special qualifications" that assign a rating to a film.  Certainly, the
potentially negative consequences of teen sexual behavior may be the impetus
behind CARA's thinking.  Although the number is steadily decreasing, nearly
500,000 teenagers give birth every year, over 11,000 of those teens were under
fifteen years of age (Ventura, Curtin & Mathews, 1998).  As many as 1 out of 6
sexually active adolescents has a sexually transmitted disease (CDC Report,
1989); this number has also decreased in the 1990s, but "compared to older
adults, adolescents...are at higher risk for acquiring STDs" (CDC Report, 1997).
        Studies linking exposure to pornography and sexual behavior exist. Goldstein,
Kant & Hartmann (1973) studied rapists, and found that their exposure to
pornography in childhood was relatively low, yet they were more affected by it.
The rapists were more likely to come from homes where sex was treated as a taboo
subject.  Allen, et al., (1995) state that "the issue with any entertainment
forum is the extent to which the material ceases to operate as entertainment and
starts to serve as a source of information" (p. 263). Like most of the media
effects theories, Social Learning has been applied to studies of pornography.
College students report that pornography serves as a source of information about
sexual behavior (Bryant & Brown, 1989; Duncan, 1990; Duncan & Donnelly, 1991;
Duncan & Nicholson, 1991), and  Malamuth (1993) considers reasonable the
assumption that effects found in studies of young men would be as strong or
stronger for adolescents.
Hypotheses
        Returning to the early Catholic notion of movie sex as a "sin that attracts"
versus movie violence as a "sin that repels," the following hypotheses are
proposed:
H1: Adults are more offended by graphic violence in movies and less offended by
graphic sex in movies.
        For hypothesis one, I believe that adults will support the notion that film sex
is less repellent than film violence. "Offense" (or, more specifically,
"offended by") refers to anger, displeasure or wounded feelings caused by either
violent or sexual movie content.  "Graphic sex in movies" refers to detailed
portrayals of simulated sexual practices, often including nudity, in films.
"Graphic violence in movies" refers to detailed portrayals of simulated assault
or murder, often including bloodshed, in films.  "Adults" refer to the entire
group of survey respondents.
        To test the idea that parents of minor children are not offended by film sex,
but fear imitation by children, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H2: Parents of minor children are more likely to agree that children imitate
movie sex more than that they themselves are offended by graphic sex in movies.
        For hypothesis two, I believe that parents fear of minor children's imitation
of sexual film content will result in their agreeing more strongly with that
statement than the offense to movie sex statement, which "attracts"--not
"repels" adults. "Parents of minor children" are those adult respondents who
self-identify as having children under the age of 18.  "Imitate movie sex"
refers to children mirroring sexual behaviors seen in movies.  "Offended by
graphic sex" is defined above.
        The following hypotheses address the imitation statements among different
groups based upon parental status:
        H3: Parents of minor children are more likely to agree that
            children imitate movie sex than adults without minor
            children.
        H4: Parents of minor children are less likely to agree that
            children imitate movie violence than adults without minor
            children.
        For hypothesis three, I believe that parents of minor children, because they
have children who could potentially imitate the sex they see in movies, are more
likely to agree with the statement than other adults who don't have children
under 18 years of age.  "Parents of minor children" and "imitate movie sex" are
defined above.  "Adults without minor children" are adult respondents who
self-identity as either not having children at all or having no children under
18 years of age.
        For hypothesis four, parents of minor children whose children are exposed to
portrayals of violence in movies and television programs, will more strongly
disagree with the imitation of movie violence statement than the other groups
who don't have children (at all or under the age of 18 respectively).
        As a way of testing if respondents will answer questions about film sex and
film violence differently, I have constructed a series of age-scale
questions.[2]  These questions ask respondents to assign a minimum age at which
children may see various types of sexual or violent film content.  The list is
made up of examples of film content that are likely to effect the rating given
to a film by the MPAA.  I will address the age scale questions for different
groups according to parental status with the following two hypotheses:
        H5: Parents of minor children will set age limits higher for
            types of sexual content than adults without minor
            children.
        H6: Parents of minor children will set age limits lower for
            types of violent content than adults without minor
            children.
        For hypothesis five, I believe a higher fear of imitation of sexual content by
children will lead parents of minor children to set the age limits higher than
other adults. For hypothesis six, I think parents of minor children believe that
their children will not act violently after seeing film violence, and will not
set age limits as high as adults who don't have minor children.  For both
hypotheses, "set age limits" refer to respondents' answers to questions asking
them to provide a minimum age a child should be before seeing various types of
movie content.

METHOD
Questionnaire Design
        The questionnaire contained a total of 134 questions, 13 of which were directly
related to this study.  Ten individual researchers' interests were represented
by questions found in the survey.  A series of nine "minimum age" questions
regarding children and various types of film content were also included in the
study.  Two different versions of the questionnaire were pretested, and 34
randomly selected respondents completed the interviews.  As a result of the
pretest, various questions were eliminated, others were rephrased and some new
questions were added,[3]and a single version of the questionnaire for the survey
was agreed upon.
Sampling
        The survey team's goal was to achieve approximately 400 completed
questionnaires from a randomly sampled population of listed phone numbers from
Onondaga County, NY.  A sample size of 2000 phone numbers was assembled and
distributed into 40 replicates, each containing 50 phone numbers.  Only adults
18 or over were eligible for participation in the survey.
Data Collection
        The survey interviews were conducted by eight doctoral students and 30
additional graduate students.  Before the field period started, each interviewer
received approximately three hours of training; survey supervisors received
additional instruction.  The most recent AAPOR standards were followed for the
purpose of call outcome coding.  During the two-week field period, a total of
forty four-hour shifts were used to conduct the survey.  Supervisors verified
slightly more than 10% of completed questionnaires.
Coding
        Most of the questions on the survey instrument were nominal or closed-ended,
using Likert scales or other indeces, including all questions relevant to this
study.  For all questions, responses of "don't know" and "refused" were
categorized as missing data and were excluded from the analysis.

RESULTS
The response rate for the survey was 36%.[4]  Percentages for categorical
variables are presented in Table 1.  The minimum age questions are presented as
categorical variables here to distinguish between respondents who set age limits
for various types of violent or sexual film content at age 21 or less and those
who set the age limits higher than 21 or said "never" in response to the
questions.  More respondents felt that children should not be allowed to see
portrayals of oral sex than portrayals of sexual intercourse in movies, which
may reflect a view of the former as a more deviant behavior than the latter.
Means and standard deviations are presented in Table 2 for all interval and
ratio level variables.  Overall, adult respondents were slightly more offended
by graphic sex in movies (3.53) than by graphic violence (3.49), and believed
that children are more likely to imitate movie violence (3.99) than movie sex
(3.76).  Adult respondents set the age limit for children viewing portrayals of
oral sex (17.64 years of age) higher than for portrayals of sexual intercourse
(17.05 years of age).  Seventeen is the age employed by the MPAA in its two most
restrictive ratings (R and NC-17); hence, respondents' age limits  for the "most
severe" of the sexual content questions do appear to coincide with the MPAA's
guidelines.
Hypotheses one tested the idea that movie violence is more offensive than movie
sex.   Tables 4 shows that the hypothesis is not supported.  Adults were
actually more offended by sexual content (3.53) than by violent content (3.49).
Hypothesis two tested the belief that parents of minor children fear the
imitation of movie sex by children more than being personally offended by
graphic sex in movies.  Table 5 indicates that hypothesis two was supported
(t=2.25, df=133, p<.05), suggesting that parents of minor children are less
offended by sexual content and more concerned with the potential for imitation
of sexual behavior by children.  In terms of sexual movie content, adults
believe that imitation by children outweighs personal offensiveness.
For hypotheses three and four, I looked at differences between adult respondents
who have minor children and adults who do not have minor children (both
non-parents and parents of adult children) regarding the imitation of sexual or
violent content questions.  Table 6 shows the independent t-tests for these two
hypotheses.  Neither hypothesis was supported, suggesting that all adults,
regardless of parental status, have similar feelings about the likelihood of
children imitating the sex or violence they see in movies.
In hypotheses five and six, I test for differences between adults with minor
children and adults without minor children in response to a series of minimum
age questions for different types of content.  Three violent movie content
variables were summed to form a violent content scale (alpha=.79).  Six sexual
movie content variables formed a sexual content scale (alpha=.93).  Table 7
shows that neither hypothesis was supported: There is no significant difference
between adults who have minor children and adults who do not with regard to
minimum age limits for sexual or violent movie content.
Pearson's correlation coefficients for the imitation, offensivenss and age scale
variables were also performed and can be found in Table 8.  All correlations
between the six variables were positive and significant at at least the .01
level.  The strongest correlations were between the two scale variables (N=209,
r=.77, p<.001), the two offensiveness variables (N=364, r=.70, p<.001) and the
two imitation variables (N=364, r=.60, p<.001), suggesting that respondents gave
similar minimum ages for sexual and violent content, were offended by both
sexual and violent content and feared imitation of both types of content by
children.
The correlation results in Table 8 present some predictable results.  As
expected, the strongest correlations were between the sexual and violent movie
content age scales (.77); the two offensiveness statements (.70); and the two
imitation statements (.60).  Hence, respondents set similar minimum age limits
for both sexual and violent film content, had similar levels of offensiveness to
graphic sex and violence in movies, and had some agreement in response to the
two imitation statements.  The correlations between like film content variables
(either sexual or violent) were substantially weaker.  For example, correlations
between the sexual content minimum age limit scale and the offensiveness to
graphic movie sex statement and children's imitation of movie sex statement were
relatively low (.30 and .28 respectively).  The same was true for correlations
between the violent content minimum age scale and offensiveness to graphic movie
violence and children's imitation of movie violence (.32 and .31 respectively).
This suggested that respondents did not discriminate much between sexual and
violent content when setting minimum age limits for various types of sexual or
violent film content.
        Tables 9 and 10 show the results of hierarchical regression analysis of
demographic variables, parental status, offensiveness to graphic movie violence
and sex and imitation of movie violence and sex on minimum age limits for
violent and sexual content scales (respectively).  For the violent content
scale, only the offensiveness to graphic violence (beta=.30, p<.05) and
imitation of movie violence (beta=.21, p<.05) variables had significant effects
(R2 changes of .10 and .04 respectively) on the dependent variable.  Similarly,
for the sexual content variables scale, offensiveness to graphic sex (beta=.34,
p<.001) and imitation of movie sex (beta=.18, p<.05) variables had significant
effects (R2 changes of .11 and .04 respectively) on the dependent variable.  In
addition, respondent's gender (beta=.18, p<.05) was significant, suggesting that
women's responses to the sexual content variables scale questions were higher
than men's.
        The results of these tests indicate that people do in fact discriminate between
violent and sexual content when considering a film's appropriateness for
children.  The effects of personal offensiveness to graphic violence and the
belief that children imitate movie violence--while controlling for the effects
of demographic variables and whether or not a person has minor children, on
respondents' answers to minimum age for violent content questions--were
significant, accounting for 14% of those responses.  More importantly, the
effects of personal offensiveness to graphic sex and the belief that children
imitate movie sex were not significant.  The same was true for the effects of
offensiveness to sexual content and belief that children imitate movie sex on
the minimum age limits for sexual content.  Hence, there appears to be a
uniformity in the way adults view sex and violence in terms of what age children
should be before seeing various types of content. The uniformity is not
indiscriminate, as the correlations may have suggested.  Instead, there is a
uniformity in terms of offensiveness, imitation and minimum age limits based on
the type of content (either violent or sexual).



DISCUSSION
        Martin Quigley and Fr. Daniel Lord, the Catholic authors of the original
Production Code (the predecessor to film ratings) believed that "attractive"
film sex and "repellent" film violence needed to be treated differently in terms
of appropriateness for audiences.  Originally, they made no distinction between
adults and children with regard to film content.  Today, we do make these
distinctions, and what is appropriate for adults is not always appropriate for
children.  The ultimate decision of what is appropriate for children under the
age of eighteen is left up to parents, who often rely on ratings to make
informed decisions.  The purpose of the MPAA's film rating system is to provide
parents with a guide that can help them make these decisions.  CARA, the board
that reviews films submitted for a rating, is comprised of adults who meet the
MPAA's sole criterion: They are parents.
Critics of the ratings system charge that the film rating system is inherently
flawed, because decisions are not based on what is potentially harmful to
children, but what offends adults (Farber, 1972; Wilson, et al., 1990).  The
scientific community and other groups are concerned with the (negative) effects
of violent content, sexual content or a combination of the two on children's
behavior.  Bandura's (1994) notion of "imitation" from his social learning
theory provides the foundation for this discussion.  Adults' belief that
children imitate the violence or sex they see in films is a major motivating
factor in ratings decisions, outweighing adults' personal offensiveness.
A second major criticism of the ratings system is that the MPAA does not treat
film sex and violence equally when assigning a rating to a film.   Despite the
MPAA's claims to the contrary, critics charge that film sex is treated more
harshly (Wilson, et. al., 1990) or, conversely, that film violence is treated
more leniently (Ramos, 1990), with regard to ratings.
This study seeks to address both of these issues at their point of intersection.
More specifically, I will employ the counter of the first criticism as a means
of support for the second.  I agree that the MPAA does treat film sex more
harshly in terms of ratings, and that some adults feel that its more acceptable
for younger children to view graphic violence than it is for them to view
graphic sex.  I do not think that this is because those adults are offended by
film sex; on the contrary, I assert that some adults' belief that children will
imitate movie sex overrides their being personally offended by this type of
content.  This assertion was tested with four hypotheses.[5]  Differences
between adults with minor children and adults without minor children were tested
with four hypotheses.
        The results for this study are based on a survey of adult respondents from
Onondaga County in New York (N=368).  Responsdents were asked how strongly they
agreed with statements about offense to sexual and violent film content, as well
as how much they agreed with statements about children imitating each type of
content.   In addition, adults were asked to assign a minimum age that children
should be in order to view various types of sexual or violent content.
        Hypothesis one addresses the notion that film violence is more offensive than
film sex.  The hypothesis was not supported; in fact, film sex is slightly more
offensive than film violence.  In his book, Farber (1972) discusses a shift that
he (and others) believe took place in the late 1960s, when the modern-day
ratings system replaced the Production Code in response to the increasingly
graphic portrayals of both sex and violence in movies.  Farber, one of the
original two graduate student interns Jack Valenti appointed to the ratings
board in the late 1960s, found himself deciding on ratings for movies in concert
with mental health professionals and people leftover from the old Production
Code office (the makeup of the original board was noticably different than
today).  Of primary importance to Farber was that the other ratings board
members'average age was nearly twice that of the two student interns.  He found
that, in terms of ratings, the older members were much more concerned with
sexual content than violent content, while Farber and the other student intern
felt that violence was more troubling.  Perhaps this is what happened in this
study.  The mean age of respondents (48) suggests a slight over-representation
of older adults, who may be more offended by movie sex than movie violence (I
came across a study that says something to the effect that older and younger
people are most offended by sexual content--I have to track it down).  That
notwithstanding, it appears that respondents are almost equally offended by both
film sex and violence.  They are neither more "repelled by" film violence nor
more "attracted to" film sex.
        In hypothesis two, I tested Farber (1972) and Wilson, et al.'s (1990) claim
that adults' personal offensiveness (by film sex) outweighs their belief in
harmful media effects (children's imitation of film sex) for parents with minor
children.  It was hypothesized that the opposite would be true for respondents
who identified themselves as having minor children.  The hypothesis was
supported; additional tests suggested that the same holds true for all adult
respondents (N=364) for both film sex and film violence.  Even though adults are
offended by movie sex and violence, their belief  that children imitate what
they see is stronger.
        The offense and imitation statements in the questionnaire were both
straightforward and general.[6] In other words, no specific examples accompanied
the individual statements, allowing respondents to define "movie sex" and "movie
violence" for themselves.  Likewise, the word "children," with no indication of
age, was used for the imitation statements.  This left substantial room for
interpretation from respondents.  For example, in suggesting an alternative
approach to rating films, Wilson, et al. (1990) indicate that while the
"fantasy" violence often found in horror films can have a more detrimental
effect on children under the age of twelve, "realistic" violence often found in
crime dramas can have a greater negative effects on slightly older children who
can differentiate between types of violence more adroitly than younger kids.
Except for the word "graphic" accompanying "sex" and "violence" in the
offensiveness statements, respondents were allowed to conceptualize the
statements any way they saw fit.  Perhaps the lack of support for hypothesis one
can further be explained by this lack of specificty: When respondents heard the
phrase "graphic sex" in the offensiveness statement, some may have thought of
pornography.
        With the next two hypotheses, I asserted that respondents who identified
themselves as having minor children would have different responses from other
adults.  More specifically, I believed that parents with minor children would
more strongly agree that children imitate movie sex and the opposite would be
true in terms of movie violence.  The results for imitation of movie violence
were virtually identical, yielding both the highest means and lowest standard
deviations in this study.  All adults, regardless of parental status, strongly
believe that children imitate movie violence.  Although the hypothesis regarding
children imitating movie sex was also not supported, an interesting result
emerged.  The mean for parents of minors was lower than that of other adults.
This may suggest a "not-my-kid" attitude among parents of minor children, who
are less willing to agree with the notion of young people imitating the sex they
see in movies.  In highnsight, I believe that changing the word "believe" to
"fear" in the imitation statements may have yielded significant results between
these two groups.  As the MPAA claims, ratings are guides for parents of minor
children.  If the statement in the questionnaire read, "I fear that children
imitate the sex they see in movies," parents of  minor children may care if they
imitate movie sex, while other adults will not care if they do or not.  Since
the word "fear" was not used, I can say that parents of minors are no more
likely to agree that kids imitate movie sex and violence than other adults.
        With the final two hypotheses, I asked respondents to set minimum age limits
for viewing some specific examples of violent or sexual film content.  Again, I
was looking for differences between parents of minor children and other adult
respondents.  Six examples of sexual content were combined to form one scale and
three examples of violent content were combined to form a separate one.  The
lowest minimum age mean (12.65) and the highest (17.64) reflect the age
distinction made by the MPAA's ratings.  The only numbers that appear in MPAA
ratings are PG-13 and NC-17, and seventeen is the minimum age a person must be
for admittance into an R-rated film without a parent or guardian.
Interestingly, the mean for the minimum age children should be to view
portrayals of oral sex was higher (17.64) than that of sexual intercourse
(17.05).  In addition to being the only two examples of content with a minimum
age mean over seventeen years old, this result may point to a perception of oral
sex as more deviant than sexual intercourse.  Like the phrase "graphic sex" that
appeared in the offensiveness statement, respondents may have thought about
pornography in response to these two questions, despite the use of the phrase
"current hit movie" that preceded both types of content.  After pretesting the
minimum age questions, it became apparent that a "never" category had to be
added to them for respondents who said "never" or gave minimum age limits over
21 years old.
        In addition to the way respondents' minimum age limits for various types of
violent or sexual film content coincided with the MPAA's ratings (and the
thinking of the parents who make film rating decisions), another interesting
result emerged.  The age that many adults believe children should be in order to
view the examples of film content provided in the questionnaire (and often found
in R-, or PG-13-rated movies) is not very close to the actual ages of children
watching movies that contain sex and violence, be it PG-rated films in the
theater or R-rated films on videocassette (Sparks, 1986b; Greenberg, et al.,
1989).  The largest discrepancies between respondents' minimum age limits and
teenagers' exposure was in terms of sexual content.  Respondents set some of the
highest minimum age limits on R-rated sexual material, the same kind of material
in movies that 92% of 13 to 15-year-olds report having already seen (Bryant,
1985).
        While the minimum age questions emphasized a disparity between what adults
believe children should see and what they do see, especially in terms of sexual
content, the imitation statements, on the other hand, showed some similarity
between adult respondents and children.  Adult respondents believe children
imitate movie sex; 14 to 17-year-olds consider media the second most important
source of sexual information (Greenberg, et al., 1993).  Although movies were
not the only form of media considered in this study, adults and teenagers both
consider movie sex instructional.  And, some of teenagers' favorite R-rated
films contain as many as 15 sexual intercourse "learning experiences"
(Greenberg, et al., 1993).
        There are a few considerations that should be taken into account for future
work in this area.  First, if another survey were to be conducted, I would use
the word "fear" in the imitation statements.  Second, I would make it clear that
the use of the word "graphic" to describe movie sex and examples of sexual
content do not refer to pornography.  Finally, an area that is not addressed in
this study but is certainly an important consideration is film content that
contains both sex and violence.  Content of this kind is perhaps the most
universally agreed upon as having the most negative effects on children.
        I believe an experiment would be an ideal approach to gain insight into how
people relate what they see to various MPAA film ratings.  Instead of describing
various types of content in words and asking people how old someone should be
before they see it, showing actual examples of content deemed as too intense for
an R rating by the MPAA could be a more valid approach to this area of research.


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 Table 1.  Percentages for categorical variables parent, parent of minor
children and viewing of various types of violent or sexual film content by
children, (N=368).

Variables                                       %

Parent
        Yes                                      74.2
        No                                      _25.8__
                                                100.00%
Parent of minor children
        Yes                                      36.7
        No                                      _63.3__
                                                100.00%
Should children view:*

Murder without bloodshed?
        Yes                                     92.9% (N=354)

A woman's bare breast in a non-sexual context?
        Yes                                     88.0% (N=346)

A male and female character fondling each other without clothing?
        Yes                                     85.6% (N=350)

Full frontal female nudity in a non-sexual context?
        Yes                                     80.2% (N=343)

Murder with bloodshed?
        Yes                                     79.1% (N=350)

Portrayals of sexual intercourse?
        Yes                                     77.7% (N=346)

Full frontal male nudity in a non-sexual context?
        Yes                                     77.4% (N=344)

Torture or mutilation?
        Yes                                     68.8% (N=350)

Portrayals of oral sex?
        Yes                                     67.9% (N=345)
_______________________________
*For these variables, responses of 21 or a lower age are coded as "Yes"
responses.  "Never" or age responses over 21 are coded as "No" responses.
"Don't know" or "refused" responses are coded as missing data.  "Yes" and "No"
responses add up to 100%. Table 2.  Means and standard deviations for
offensiveness to film sex and violence variables and imitation of film sex and
violence variables.

Variables                       Mean            Std. Deviation                  N____

I am offended by graphic
sex in films.*                  3.53            1.20                            366

I am offended by graphic
violence in films.*             3.49            1.24                            366

Children are likely to
imitate the sex they see
in films.*                              3.76            1.00                            366

Children are likely to
imitate the violence they
see in films.*                  3.99             .96                            366
_______________________________________
*Responses coded: 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neutral, 2=disagree, 1=strongly
disagree. Table 3.  Means and standard deviations for minimum age at which
children should be allowed to view various types of film content.

Variables                                       Mean            Std. Deviation  N____
How old do you think a child should be before
viewing a current hit movie containing:

Murder without bloodshed.*              12.65           3.41                    342

A woman's bare breast in
a non-sexual context.*                  13.74           3.95                    324

Full frontal female nudity
in a non-sexual context.*               15.57           3.95                    324

Murder with bloodshed.*         15.74           2.75                    291

Full frontal male nudity
in a non-sexual context.*               15.74           3.36                    285

Male and female characters
fondling each other without
clothing.*                                      16.44           2.38                    315

Torture or mutilation.*         16.64           2.46                    253

Portrayals of sexual
intercourse.*                           17.05           2.25                    286

Portrayals of oral sex.*                17.64           2.16                    250
___________________________________________________________________

Violent content scale.**                14.87           2.37                    243

Sexual content scale.***                15.95           2.37                    229
________________________________
*Responses coded in number of years up to the age of 21.

**Scale is the average of age responses for the murder without bloodshed, murder
with bloodshed and torture or mutilation variables and is coded in number of
years up to the age of 21.

***Scale is the average of age responses for the women's bare breast in
nonsexual context, full frontal female nudity in nonsexual context, full frontal
male nudity in nonsexual context, fondling without clothing, portrayals of
sexual intercourse and
portrayals of oral sex variables and is coded in number of years up to the age
of 21. Table 4.  Correlated t-tests for all adult respondents' offensiveness and
imitation variables.

Variables                    Mean        Std. Dev.       t value    df     signif.
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic sex in
movies.*                     3.53            1.20

I am offended by                                          .82           364             ns
graphic violence in
movies.*                     3.49            1.24
___________________________________________________________________

Children are likely
to imitate the sex
they see in movies.*    3.76         1.00

Children are likely                               4.97  363       p<.000
to imitate the violence
they see in movies.*    3.99          .97
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic sex in
movies.*                      3.53           1.20

Children are likely                               3.53  363    p<.001
to imitate the sex
they see in movies.*    3.76         1.00
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic violence in
movies.*                        3.49         1.24

Children are likely                               7.95  363      p<.000
to imitate the violence
they see in movies.*    3.99            .97
___________________________________________________________________
*Responses were coded: 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neutral, 2=disagree,
1=strongly disagree.  Table 5.  Correlated t-tests for offensiveness and
imitation variables, for parents with minor children only.

Variables               Mean     Std. Dev.       t value        df      significance
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic sex in
movies.*                3.45            1.24

I am offended by                                   1.09 134             ns
graphic violence in
movies.*                3.36            1.25
___________________________________________________________________

Children are
likelyto imitate
the sex they see
in movies.*             3.69            1.07

Children are likely                       4.39  133             p<.000
to imitate the
violence they see
in movies.*             4.00             .98
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic sex in
movies.*                3.45            1.24

Children are likely                     2.25            134             p<.05
to imitate the
sex they see
in movies.*             3.69            1.06
___________________________________________________________________

I am offended by
graphic violence
in movies.*             3.37            1.25

Children are likely                     5.99            133             p<.000
to imitate the
violence they
see in movies.* 4.00             .98
___________________________________________________________________

*Responses were coded: 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neutral, 2=disagree,
1=strongly disagree. Table 6.  Independent t-tests for imitation of movie sex
and violence and offensiveness of movie sex and violence by parental status,
means and standard deviations.

                                 Do you have any children
    Under the age of 18?

Variables                        Yes            No
                                Means         Means
                                (&SD)         (&SD)
                             (N=135)    (N=233) t value  df    signif.

I am offended by         3.45          3.58
graphic sex in films.*  (1.24)      (1.18)        .95      364  ns

I am offended by         3.36          3.56
graphic violence in     (1.25)      (1.22)       1.46    364    ns
films.*

Children are likely
to imitate the sex     3.69         3.80
they see in films.*     (1.06)     (  .96)       1.03    364    ns

Children are likely
to imitate the           4.00           3.98
violence they see in  (  .98)     (  .95)         .16    364    ns
in films.*

*Responses were coded: 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neutral, 2=disagree,
1=strongly disagree.

 Table 7.  Independent t-test for sexual content age scale and violent content
age scale by parental status, means and standard deviations.

Do you have any children
Under the age of 18?

Variables                        Yes             No
                                Means          Means
                                 (SD)           (SD)
                                  (N)         (N)   t value     df  significance

Sexual content
variables scale.*       16.14          15.79    1.10    227          ns
        (2.06)   (2.59)
        (102)          (127)

Violent content
variables scale.**      14.78          14.95     .55    241          ns                                 (2.34)   (2.40)
        (109)          (134)
_______________________________________

*Scale is the average of age responses for the women's bare breast in nonsexual
context, full frontal female nudity in nonsexual context, full frontal male
nudity in nonsexual context, fondling without clothing, portrayals of sexual
intercourse and portrayals of oral sex variables and is coded in number of years
up to the age of 21.

**Scale is the average of age responses for the murder without bloodshed, murder
with bloodshed and torture or mutilation variables and is coded in number of
years up to the age of 21.
  Table 8.  Pearson correlation coefficients for parental status, offensiveness,
imitation and age limit variables.

Variables               2               3               4               5            6__

1. Imitation    .60c            .39c            .37c            .28c         .29c
of movie sex*   (364)           (364)           (364)           (229)       (243)

2. Imitation of  __             .39c            .43c            .23c         .31c
movie violence*                 (365)           (364)           (229)     (243)

3. Movie sex                     __             .70c            .30c         .27c
offensiveness*                                  (365)           (229)       (242)

4. Movie violence                               __              .19b         .32c
offensiveness*                                                  (229)     (209)

5. Film sexual                                                  __           .77c
content age limits**                                                        (209)

6. Film violent                                                                         __
content age limits***

____________________________

*Responses were coded: 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neutral, 2=disagree,
1=strongly disagree.

**Average of minimum age limits for various types of violent content.

***Average of minimum age limits for various types of sexual content.
_____________________________

ap<.05
bp<.01
cp<.001 Table 9.  Hierarchical regression analysis of demographic variables,
parental status, offensiveness to movie violence and sex, and imitation of movie
violence and sex on minimum age limits for violent content.

Blocks of independent           Std.    R-square        Total       Adjusted
variables                               beta    change  R-square  R-square
___________________________________________________________________

1. Demographic variables
        -- Age                  .10
        -- Gender (female=1)    .03
        -- Income                   -.15a
        -- Education            .06       .03           .03             .01

2. Parental status
        -- Parent of minor      .00       .00           .03             .01
           (yes=1)

3. Offended by variables
        -- Graphic movie sex    .09
        -- Graphic movie        .30c      .10c          .13c            .10c
           violence

4. Imitation variables
        -- Movie sex by
           children                     .04
        -- Movie violence by    .21a      .04b          .17c            .14c
            children


____________________

ap<.05
bp<.01
cp<.001
 Table 10.  Hierarchical regression analysis of demographic variables, parental
status, offensiveness to movie violence and sex, and imitation of movie violence
and sex on minimum age limits for sexual content.

Blocks of independent           Std.    R-square        Total           Adjusted
variables                               beta    change  R-square        R-square
___________________________________________________________________

1. Demographic variables
        -- Age                   .05
        -- Gender (female=1)     .04
        -- Income                       -.10
        -- Education             .00       .01    .01            -.01

2. Parental status
        -- Parent of minor       .13       .01    .03             .00
        (yes=1)

3. Offended by variables
        -- Graphic movie sex     .34c
-- Graphic movie         .05     .11c     .14c            .11c
     violence

4. Imitation variables
        -- Movie sex by        .18a
           children
-- Movie violence by    .07        .04a   .18c            .14c
   children

____________________

ap<.05
bp<.01
cp<.001




 Appendix A
The following are four Likert scale questions relevant to this study.  Two refer
to adults' offensiveness to sexual or violent movie content and two refer to
adults' belief that children imitate sexual or violent movie content:

Now I'd like to read you some statements about movies and television.  Please
indicate whether you strongly agree, agree, are neutral, disagree or strongly
disagree.


I am offended by graphic violence in movies.                            _____

<5> Strongly agree
<4> Agree
<3> Neutral
<2> Disagree
<1> Strongly disagree

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED

Children are likely to imitate the violent acts they see in movies.

<5> Strongly agree
<4> Agree                                                                               _____
<3> Neutral
<2> Disagree
<1> Strongly disagree

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED

I am offended by graphic sex in movies.                                 _____

<5> Strongly agree
<4> Agree
<3> Neutral
<2> Disagree
<1> Strongly disagree

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED

Children are likely to imitate the sexual acts they see in movies.

<5> Strongly agree
<4> Agree                                                                               _____
<3> Neutral
<2> Disagree
<1> Strongly disagree

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED
 The following questions ask respondents to provide a "minimum age" for various
types of movie content.  A scale was made, combining similar types of content
(three for violent content and six for sexual content):


Now I'm going to return to some questions about movies.

How old do you think children should be before they can see a current hit movie
containing...

Murder without bloodshed, for example, a character is shot and dies, but no
blood is shown?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

A woman's bare breast in a non-sexual context, for example, taking a shower?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

How old do you think children should be before they can see a current hit movie
containing a male and female character fondling each other without clothing?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

Murder with bloodshed, for example, a character's throat is cut and we see the
blood?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

Full frontal female nudity in a non-sexual context, for example, taking a
shower?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

 How old do you think children should be before they can see a current hit movie
containing portrayals of sexual intercourse?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

If the respondent seems confused about the type of portrayal the question refers
to, say: "Portrayals of simulated sexual intercourse found in current hit
movies."

Torture or mutilation with bloodshed, for example, a character's finger is cut
off?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

Full frontal male nudity in a non-sexual context, for example, taking a shower?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

How old do you think children should be before they can see a current hit movie
containing portrayals of oral sex?

[CODE ANSWER IN YEARS:]__________                                               _____

<777> NEVER
<888> DON'T KNOW
<999> REFUSED

If the respondent seems confused about the type of portrayal the question refers
to, say: "Portrayals of simulated oral sex found in current hit movies."


Finally, three demographic questions were directly related to this study:


Are you a parent?                                                               _____

<1> YES
<0> NO

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED

 Are any of your children under the age of 18?                  _____

<1> YES
<0> NO

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED

Are any of your children aged 12 to 17?                                 _____

<1> YES
<0> NO

<8> DON'T KNOW
<9> REFUSED
[1] One scene in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom features a human
heart being pulled from a character's chest; in Gremlins, one of the furry
creatures is thrown into a microwave and is shown exploding.
[2] For a complete list of age-scale questions, see Appendix A.
[3] With regard to this study, changes following the pretest were: (a) the
"minimum age" questions had a "never" category added to them; (b) some of the
"minimum age" questions were dropped, and the order of the remaining nine was
changed; and (c) the two Likert scale questions regarding offensiveness were
added.
[4] Based on the 1998 AAPOR formula for calculating response rate:
RR=(I+P/((I+P) + (R+NC+O) + (UN+UO)).
[5]  The phrase "some adults" refers, specifically, to adults who identify
themselves as having minor children.
[6] See Appendix A.

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