First Advisor

L. David Ritchie

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Television soap operas -- Social aspects, Sex on television, Teenagers -- Sexual behavior



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 150 p.)


This study updates prior examinations of sexual content on daytime soap operas by investigating verbal references, implied sexual acts and mentions of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, it extends earlier work by analyzing the commitment level and age of those involved in the sexual content. Finally, this study will attempt to obtain a clear picture of what adolescents perceive while viewing these shows. This was investigated by conducting adolescent and adult focus groups to see how they talk about soap operas. Also, comparisons were made of adult and adolescent coding of the sexual content on soap operas. All daytime soap operas were recorded twice per month for a six month period in 1995. From this sample, 36 hours of programming were coded for sexual content. For the adolescent and adult comparison studies, six adolescents and six adults from the Portland metropolitan area were selected to take part in focus groups and soap opera coding. Each of these subjects is a current soap opera viewer and all watched Days of Our Lives. The findings in this study do not support a social learning theory account, according to which the content of television programming provides a basis for undesirable effects. This study shows that soap operas provide both positive and negative depictions of sexual activity. It suggests that the age and/or background of the viewer has a more significant influence on what the viewer gets from the viewing experience.


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