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Impact of Television Media Depicting Sex Under the Influence of Alcohol on Cognitions Derived from the Prototype Willingness Model Open Access

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The present study examined the influence of television media on cognitions derived from the Prototype Willingness Model. Existing research on media portraying alcohol and sex demonstrates that media exposure influences corresponding cognitions and behaviors. This dissertation focused on the related, but understudied, college public health issue of sex under the influence of alcohol and experimentally examined the impact of televised media exposure on: behavioral willingness to engage in sex under the influence of alcohol, prototypes of individuals who engage in sex under the influence of alcohol, descriptive norms of peers who engage in sex under the influence of alcohol, and perceived vulnerability for engaging in sex without protection while under the influence of alcohol. The moderating influence of social comparison orientation and past engagement in sex under the influence of alcohol were explored. Television media exposure was manipulated by having college students view television shows depicting sex under the influence of alcohol, the same shows edited to show neither sex nor alcohol, or a no-media control group. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing Prototype Willingness Model constructs along with social comparison orientation, past behavior, and other controls. No significant main effects emerged for media exposure. A significant condition by past behavior interaction demonstrated that willingness to have sex under the influence was highest among participants who had recently engaged sex under the influence of alcohol and who viewed this behavior on television, suggesting that past behavior moderates media influence. Results for the moderating impact of social comparison orientation were inconsistent. Overall, the results are inconclusive, but provide direction for future research on the impact of media portraying sex under the influence of alcohol on college students' cognitions related to health risk behavior.

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