Dr. Dale Kunkel (Ph.D., Annenberg School, University of Southern California, 1984) is Professor of Communication at the University of Arizona. Kunkel studies children and media issues from diverse perspectives, including television effects research as well as assessments of media industry content and practices. He is a former Congressional Science Fellow, and has testified as an expert witness on children's media topics at numerous hearings before the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Federal Communications Commission. Dr. Kunkel previously taught at Indiana University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Among the topics he examines are the effects of television violence, sexual content, and advertising on young people.
From 1994-98, Dr. Kunkel was co-Principal Investigator (along with UA colleague Dr. Edward Donnerstein) of the National Television Violence Study (NTVS). This $3.3 million project is the largest scientific study of media violence. Its analysis of the risks associated with different types of violent portrayals on television is widely recognized as a catalyst that led to the creation of the V-chip, an effort to warn parents about programs with violent or other sensitive material potentially harmful to children.
Kunkel, D. (2007). The Effects of Media Violence on Children. Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Washington, DC. (Remarks begin at 41:10).
Kunkel, D., & Zwarun, L. (2006). How real is the problem of television violence? Research and policy perspectives. In N. Dowd, D. Singer, & R. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of children, culture, and violence, pp. 203-224. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Kunkel, D., Farinola, W., Cope-Farrar, K., Donnerstein, E., Biely, E., & Zwarun, L. (2002). Deciphering the V-Chip: An examination of the television industry’s program rating judgments. Journal of Communication, 52, 112-138.
Smith, S., Wilson, B., Kunkel, D., Linz, D., Potter, W.J., Colvin, C., & Donnerstein, E. (1998). Violence in television programming overall. National Television Violence Study, Volume 3. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Sexual Messages on Television
Since 1997, Dr. Kunkel and colleagues have conducted biennial studies of sexual content in entertainment television, funded by grants of over $500,000 from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The research identifies messages likely to influence the sexual socialization of older children and teens, and tracks changes over time in the ways in which sexual topics are presented on television. Particular emphasis is devoted to sexual health risk concerns including AIDS, STDs, and unplanned pregnancy.
Eyal, K., & Kunkel, D. (2008). The effects of sex in television drama shows on emerging adults' sexual attitudes and moral judgements. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52, 161-181.
Kunkel, D., Farrar, K.M., Eyal, K., Biely, E., Donnerstein, E., & Rideout V. (2007). Sexual socialization messages in entertainment television: Comparing content trends 1997-2002. Media Psychology.
Kunkel, D., Eyal, K., Finnerty, K., Biely, E., & Donnerstein, E. (2005). Sex on TV 4. Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Advertising to Children
Dr. Kunkel studies age-related developmental differences in how children recognize and defend against commercial persuasion in the media. In 2004, he was senior author of the scientific report of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Advertising to Children. More recently, he served on a National Academy of Sciences committee that studied the role of food marketing to children as a contributor to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.
Kunkel, D. & Wright, P. (2010) Advertisers Target Children. News Clip, Arizona Public Media.
Stitt, C., & Kunkel, D. (2008). Food advertising during children's television programming on broadcast and cable channels. Health Communication 23(6), 573-584.
Kunkel, D., & McKinley, C. (2007). Developing ratings for food products: Lessons learned from media rating systems. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 39(2), 25-31.
Kunkel, D., Wilcox, B., Cantor, J., Palmer, E., Linn, S., & Dowrick, P. (2004). Psychological issues in the increasing commercialization of childhood. Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.