Knobloch-Westerwick(1)-2 - Media Psychology 11:400417 2008...

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Media Psychology , 11:400–417, 2008 Copyright © ISSN: 1521-3269 print/1532-785X online DOI: 10.1080/15213260802178542 News Selection Patterns as a Function of Race: The Discerning Minority and the Indiscriminating Majority SILVIA KNOBLOCH-WESTERWICK The Ohio State University OSEI APPIAH The Ohio State University SCOTT ALTER University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School This study examines whether White majority and Black minor- ity members differ in selecting news stories that featured either individuals of their own group or dissimilar others. Hypotheses derived from social-cognitive theory, social comparison theory, and distinctiveness theories were tested utilizing unobtrusive ob- servations of news story selections. This selective exposure research design overcomes methodological constraints of previous experi- mental studies that employed self-reports and forced-exposure tech- niques to measure responses of Blacks and Whites to race-specific media sources. Our sample consisted of 112 Blacks and 93 Whites, who browsed 10 online news stories while exposure was unobtru- sively logged via software. The news site displayed equal numbers of Black and White characters, with the pictures associated with the news stories rotated across participants. Results indicate that Whites showed no preference based on the race of the character featured in the news story. In contrast, Blacks strongly preferred news stories featuring Blacks and spent more than twice the read- ing time on them compared to exposure to news stories featuring Whites. Media use has become an extensive daily activity in modern societies, and the media are often referred to as a socialization agent that conveys social norms Address correspondence to Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, School of Communication, 154 N. Oval Mall, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: knobloch- [email protected] 400
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News Selection Patterns as a Function of Race 401 and behavioral standards (e.g., Bandura, 2001; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Sig- of behavior indiscriminately and certainly do not adopt everything they see in the media. Hence, it is interesting to note how media recipients allocate their attention to actors and actions that potentially become inspiration for their own behaviors. Earlier research has examined how the features of media characters, such as gender or age, can attract children or adults to attend to media content. The current project extends this line of research by analyzing how ethnicity of media characters influences selective exposure to media messages among Black and White media recipients. SOCIAL LEARNING AND SELECTIVE ATTENTION
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Knobloch-Westerwick(1)-2 - Media Psychology 11:400417 2008...

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