Children's cognitive and emotional responses to the portrayal of negative emotions in family-formatted situation comedies

Audrey J. Weiss, Barbara Jan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This experiment assesses children's cognitive and emotional responses to negative emotions in family-formatted situation comedies. Boys and girls from two grade levels (Grades K-2 vs. Grades 3-5) viewed a family sitcom that featured one of two negative emotions (anger, fear) and varied the inclusion of a positive, humorous subplot (no, yes). Results revealed that inclusion of the subplot reduced comprehension of the major story line for younger children as well as for boys. Among all children, the presence of the positive subplot also distorted perceptions of how negative and persistent the main character's emotions were. Finally, children who perceived the family sitcom to be highly realistic were more concerned about similar negative emotional events in their own lives than were those who perceived the program to be less realistic. The findings are discussed in terms of children's social learning from television and emotional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-609
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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