Though previous studies have already proven that obsessively watching crime-based TV shows has a positive impact on attitudes regarding sexual assault, Washington State University (WSU)’s study pitting three giants of the genre against each other is presumably the first of its kind.
WSU decided on Law & Order, NCIS and CSI as their path to understanding how deeply this sector of programming is impacting potential viewers' attitudes toward sexual assault. 313 freshman students took a survey in which they recorded how often they watched each of the three franchises and, perhaps most importantly, how much attention they actually gave it. Additionally, the survey confronted how much participants "subscribed" to various rape myths and victim-shaming tactics.
Law & Order was, without question, the one that seemed to promote the healthiest ideas surrounding the controversial subject of sexual assault. Researchers also noted that Law & Order typically portrays "a shift in the power differential that traditionally exists in sexual relationships between men and women," according to the Huffington Post. Many episodes also undermine those aforementioned victim-shaming tactics by diversely portraying their victims from various walks of life. CSI, interestingly enough, was once again likened to pornography, while NCIS doesn’t feature anywhere near as many storylines centered on sexual assault and was deemed not as impactful at Law & Order.