Date of Award

Fall 2018

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

James Tucker

Second Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Third Advisor

Cesar J Rebellon


Studies on media content have been focused for decades on the frequency of violence, types of aggression, and sex roles. These studies have largely focused on children’s media, especially Disney, with few investigating the presence of violence in adult media as it is perceived as less harmful. Although these are all important topics of research, they have failed to incorporate the larger picture of media's portrayal of conflict resolution. This study aims to answer the questions: how is conflict resolution portrayed in popular films and does it change based on the MPAA rating? using popular movies from 2016. The ratings are based on the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system which is applied to all major production companies. The ratings studied, PG and PG-13, are proxies for age as the target audience changes as PG-13 rated films are not recommended for children under the age of 13 and suggests parental guidance or supervision for those youth. Results indicate that the resolution to conflicts does differ between PG and PG-13 movies, as PG movies are more likely to use verbally aggressive methods and PG-13 are more likely to use physically aggressive methods of conflict resolution. Following this, PG-13 movies are more likely to result in total control over, or the death of, the opposing member of the conflict. PG conflicts are more likely to result in toleration by one of the actors. Both PG and PG-13 movies largely follow traditional gender roles. Even as female characters engaged in violence and aggression similarly to the male characters, they also were more likely to be presented as “bad” characters when doing so and less likely to attain their goals.