Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Prime-Time TV's Favorite Beverage - Alcohol

Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Prime-Time TV's Favorite Beverage - Alcohol

Article excerpt

Alcohol is shown on prime-time TV programs far more than any other drink or food, and actors, including those portraying adolescents, are shown consuming alcohol on more than 40 percent of network shows, according to a new Cornell University study.

"Particularly disturbing, however, is that when a character is actually shown with alcohol, an adolescent character is almost twice as likely to drink it compared with older characters," says Alan Mathios, associate professor of policy analysis and management and an expert on food advertising and labels. "However, one encouraging finding is that although characters who are portrayed consuming alcohol have, on average, positive personality characteristics (such as smart, admirable, and powerful), adolescents on prime-time TV who drink tend to have negative personality traits (such as despicable, stupid or powerless)."

The researcher and his colleagues analyzed the frequency, nature, and meanings of alcohol messages on 276 prime-time television programs on the four largest networks during two nonconsecutive weeks, a total of 224 hours of television viewing. Mathios' colleagues on the project were Rosemary Avery, associate professor of policy analysis and management; Carole Bisogni, associate professor of nutritional sciences; and James Shanahan, assistant professor of communications.

Overall they found alcohol was consumed 555 times in the 224 hours of prime time - about twice a program and 2.5 times an hour. Nonalcoholic beverages, such as sodas and coffee, were the next most frequently portrayed food or beverage, shown being consumed 415 times.

Teenagers between 13 and 18 years of age accounted for 7 percent of all scenes involving alcohol, about the same as their representation in all food and beverage portrayals. …

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