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1/3/2006 Media and young girls focus of Linfield lecture

McMINNVILLE - Aggressive media?s effect on girls is the topic of an upcoming faculty lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield College.

Jennifer Linder, assistant professor of psychology, will speak on "The Stranger in Your House: The Effects of Media on Girls? Aggression and Relationships."

Linder will discuss goals and preliminary findings from a year-long collaborative research project, the Girls and the Media Project, that she is conducting in Yamhill County schools. Media effects on the quality of girls? close relationships will also be discussed.

The Girls and the Media Project is a study of the effects of television, video games and movies on pre-adolescent girls? physical, verbal and relational aggression. Linder and eight Linfield students are studying 100 fifth grade girls to determine whether girls who watch aggressive programming are more likely to be aggressive and have poor quality relationships.

"By watching this type of media, they?re learning unhealthy ways of resolving conflicts with siblings, parents and friends," she said.

The project, funded by a Linfield faculty professional development grant, is assessing media habits and the quality of the girls? relationships. Linder and her students are looking at teacher reports, parent questionnaires and friendship observations, in addition to analyzing the content of TV programs, movies and video games watched by the girls.

According to Linder, research on the effects of violent media on children has focused almost exclusively on physical aggression, not considering the influence of media on other forms of aggression, such as verbal and relational.

"Girls tend to use verbal and relational aggression," she said. "They use relationships as a means of harm - spreading rumors about someone, social exclusion, the silent treatment. These behaviors are more common in girls, and may be learned from the media."

The research has resulted in a number of conference presentations by students, including a poster at the Linfield Science Symposium. Kelsey Lyle, a junior majoring in psychology, will also present a talk at the Oregon Academy of Sciences this month.

Linder holds a bachelor?s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.

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