02/26/2013 12:48 pm ET Updated Feb 27, 2013

Crime Drama Viewers May Be More Inclined To Help Victims Of Sexual Assault, Study Suggests

Here's a possible benefit to being a CSI junkie: A new study published in the Journal Of Health Communication suggests that viewers of primetime crime dramas may be more likely to intervene on behalf of a victim of sexual assault, compared with people who don't watch those types of shows.

The findings are important because "increasing bystander intervention is critical to sexual assault prevention efforts," study researcher Stacey Hust, an associate professor of communication at Washington State University, said in a statement. "Bystander intervention both creates an environment in which sexual assault is not tolerated and an environment supportive of victims -- both of which are necessary to eliminate sexual assault."

The study included 508 undergraduate college students, ages 18 to 28, at Pacific Northwest University. More than half of the participants were women. Each participant filled out a Personal Attributes Questionnaire, which allows the participants to rate themselves using criteria including self-confidence, competitiveness, standing up under pressure and passivity.

The participants feelings’ of rape were then assessed though the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, where they were presented with scenarios and asked how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, “If a woman is raped while she is drunk she is at least somewhat responsible for letting things get out of control.”

Researchers found an association between the study participant indicating that he or she watched crime dramas, and the likelihood that he or she would intervene in the case of sexual assault.

"This finding is exciting for health communication practitioners because it suggests that prime-time television may be a successful medium for educating the public on the issue and encouraging positive behaviors,” study researcher Emily Garrigues Marett, a management faculty member at Mississippi State University, said in a statement.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.6 percent women have experienced sexual violence other than rape and 18.3 percent of women have experienced rape; 5.3 percent of men have experienced sexual violence other than rape and 1.4 percent of men have experienced rape.