Amy Bleakley, Ph.D., research analysis manager at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, was lead author of a paper, “A Model of Adolescents’ Seeking of Sexual Content in Their Media Choices,” published in The Journal of Sex Research (Volume 48, Issue 4). Dr. Bleakley’s co-authors were APPC scholars Michael Hennessy, Ph.D., and Martin Fishbein, Ph.D.
This article reports on the extent to which adolescents report actively seeking sexual content in media, identifies from which media they report seeking, estimates the association between seeking sexual information and romantic and sexual behavior, and shows that active seeking of sexual content in media sources is explained by an intention to seek such content using the Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction, a reasoned action approach. The data are a national sample of 810 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years. Results show that 50% of adolescents reported actively seeking sexual content in their media choices, which included movies, television, music, Internet pornography sites, and magazines. Males sought sex content more than females, and gender differences were greatest for seeking from Internet pornography sites, movies, and television. Path analysis demonstrate that seeking sexual content is well-predicted by intentions to seek, and intentions are primarily driven by perceived normative pressure to seek sexual content.