Emotional responses to a televised nuclear holocaust film

Joanne Cantor, Cynthia Hoffner, Barbara J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A random telephone survey of parents of children between the ages of 3 and 18 was conducted the night after The Day After was aired on television. Based on theories and research indicating a developmental shift from perceptual to conceptual information, it was expected that the level of emotional upset to the movie would increase with age. This prediction was confirmed, despite the fact that the movie was not very upsetting overall. Other findings revealed that children’s postviewing behaviors were significantly related to both age and degree of upset. Nonpermissive parents (those who had prevented a child from viewing the movie) were more likely than permissive parents to have been upset by the movie. Parents reported mass media to be more influential than sChools, in their decisions regarding whether or not to let a child view the movie; sChools, in turn, were more influential than both religious and political organizations. The influence of advice from sChools was stronger among nonpermissive than among permissive parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-277
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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