Deceitful Behaviour in Situation Comedy: effects on children's perception of social reality

Journal of Moral Education 16 (2):61-76 (1988)

Abstract Research findings in the last decade indicated that although situation comedies were most popular with children, most children did not fully understand the moral of stories or the messages conveyed. Psychologists expressed concern that an adequate comprehension of messages in this genre may require complex intellectual operations which young viewers were not capable of. A broadcast presenting deceitful behaviour in a situation comedy, tested among 314 9?12 year old children in Israel, had no immediate effect on the perception of children vis?à?vis norms of behaviour in their surroundings. The degree of understanding increased with age as did the level of children's critical approach and moral judgement of deceitful behaviour in the broadcast. Young viewers regarded negative behaviour presented on the screen as wrong. Evaluations of such behaviours on TV were independent of children's perception regarding the norms of behaviour in their real life environment. The study revealed that even at the age of 9, Israeli children display a high degree of understanding of motives and effects presented in a situation comedy. Sympathy for TV characters was not based on the characters? moral/immoral behaviour, but rather on their entertaining appearance and quality of acting
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DOI 10.1080/0260741900160202
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