Prime-time television: Assessing violence during the most popular viewing hours

Stacy L. Smith, Amy I. Nathanson, Barbara Jan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study was designed to assess the prevalence and context of violence in prime-time television programming using a random, representative sample of 23 broadcast, independent, and cable channels. Results showed that regardless of the time of day, viewers are likely to encounter violence in roughly 2 out of 3 programs when they view television. Using social cognitive theory to frame our analysis, we also identified specific channel types and genres that feature potentially harmful depictions of violence during prime time. Specifically, broadcast network and basic cable are the most problematic channel types, and reality television is the most problematic genre. Results are summarized to highlight the day parts, channels, and genres that are most likely to contribute to negative effects from prime-time viewing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-111
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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