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Author: Hoffner, Cynthia; Cantor, Joanne
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Year: 1990
Article Title: Forewarning of a threat and prior knowledge of outcome: Effects on children's emotional responses to a film sequence
Journal: Human Communication Research
Volume: 16
Issue: 3
Pages: 323-354
ISBN/ISSN: 0360-3989
Source of Funding:
Study Design: Experimental Study
Publication Type: Journal Article
Age Group: Childhood (birth-12 yrs), School Age (6-12 yrs)
Abstract: CMCH Abstract Objective: Examine the effects of a threat forewarning and prior knowledge of a happy outcome on children's fear reactions to a scary program and on their happiness in response to successful resolution.

Design: 2x2x2x2x2 between subjects design. Children (younger group, older group; boys, girls) watched a movie and received a forewarning of threatening event (forewarning, no forewarning) and prior information about the happy outcome (prior knowledge, no prior knowledge). Some children saw happy ending as continuous part of program (intact version) while others saw happy ending after they reported their responses to preceding portions of program (interrupted version).

Subjects and Design: 186 children (younger group: 5-7 year-olds: n=88, M age =6.6 years; older group: 9-11 year-olds, n=98, M= 10.6 years). Younger children attended day-care center and older children attended elementary school in Madison, Wisconsin. Each gender equally represented in each group.

Outcome Measure(s): Self-reports of emotional response, facial expression of emotion, skin temperature, self-report of coping strategies.

Results: Forewarning of threat increased children's fear responses. Prior knowledge of happy outcome reduced fear. No age differences between 2 groups.

Conclusion: This study indicated that forewarning of threatening event is not an effective strategy to reduce children's fear. However, more research is necessary to confirm this conclusion. Center on Media and Child Health
Keywords: Age Differences
Coping Behavior
Emotional Response
Gender Differences
Motion Pictures



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