Date of this Version
Published in Western Journal of Communication, doi: 10.1080/10570314.2013.809475. Published online September 3, 2013.
Media portrayals of crime have been linked to biased information processing and beliefs about society and personal risks of victimization. Much of this research has either focused on relatively holistic analyses of media consumption, or on the analysis of elements of only a few types of crime (e.g., murder, rape, assault). Research to date has overlooked how media portray stalking in interpersonal relationships. This study content analyzed 51 mainstream movies with prominent stalking themes to compare and contrast such depictions with the actual scientific data about stalking. By considering victim variables, stalker variables, relational variables, stalking behavior variables, victim response variables, and justice variables, this analysis illustrates how films have portrayed stalking as more gender equivalent, briefer, more deadly and sexualized, and more criminally constituted in stalker history and actions compared to actual stalking cases. Implications for the cultivation of attitudes about real-world stalking behaviors and recommendations for further research are discussed.