Nowadays we spend a lot of time watching series and films on television and even on our phones and laptops. Children grow up in a time perk with the convenience of video streaming companies like Netflix. Our well-known Disney films are still being watched by children and are therefore used in several studies.
For instance, a study focused on the influence of Disney movies on prosocial intentions among children. They used the Disney movie Finding Nemo to investigate the effects of this movie on the intention to perform prosocial behavior among children aged between 8 and 10 years. They looked at closeness of friendship and the amount of friendships children have to measure the prosocial intentions. Unfortunately, the results did not show a significant relation between watching our beloved orange clown fish and his friend Dory and the intention to perform prosocial behavior. However, there was found a positive significant effect: children with closer friendships are more likely to show more prosocial behavior.
Another study about Disney movies focused on the use of older characters. Researchers found that stereotypes arise in children’s lives form their direct experience and also from television. To check this for younger children, a study with Disney movies has been performed. The study illustrated that while the majority of older characters are portrayed as positive characters, there is still a large percentage that is portrayed in a negative manner. This result helps explain why children have negative feelings toward older people.
To conclude, Disney movies are great stimuli material to use in studies. So if you want to investigate behavior of children as result of watching television: use Disney movies! It is also a good excuse to watch the movies yourself then.
~ M. van Erp, 2019
Vlaanderen, A., Anschutz, D., & de Leeuw, R. (2018). The influence of Disney movies on prosocial intentions among children. Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap, 46(3), 197.
Isaacs, L.W., & Bearison, D.J. (1986)The development of children’s prejudice against the aged. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 23 (3), 175-194.
Robinson, T., Callister, M., Magoffin, D., & Moore, J. (2007). The portrayal of older characters in Disney animated films. Journal of aging studies, 21(3), 203-213.