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Unformatted text preview: Media and the Construction of Meaning Objectives
126 Identify examples of cultivation effects.
Develop a personal opinion concerning the warning labels/ratings on packaged music.
Examine examples of parasocial behavior.
Support a position on the issue of video game violence and its effect on behavior. READINGS
Read chapter 9 in the textbook.
Read "Cultivation Theory," by Chandler, located on the Aberystwyth University Web site at http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/cultiv.html
Read "The Social Learning Theory," by Isom, located on the Florida State University Web site at http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/bandura.htm
Read "Video Games Have Become a Scapegoat for Violent Behavior" by Ferguson, from Chronicle of Higher Education (2007), located in the GCU eLibrary at
Read "Video Games Foster Violent Behavior" by Bickham, from Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context (2011), located in the GCU eLibrary at
Read "Violent Video Games: Rehearsing Aggression" by Carll, from Chronicle of Higher Education (2007), located in the GCU eLibrary at http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?
Read "Grand Theft Scapegoat" by Koffler, from Reason (2005), located in the GCU eLibrary at http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
direct=true&db=a9h&AN=18255934&site=ehost-live&scope=site Read "Sex and Violence: Is Exposure to Media Content Harmful to Children?" By Kotrla, from Children & Libraries (2007), located in the GCU eLibrary at http://library.gcu.edu:2048/log
url=http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e05ffc7b82686c1ca7acd468603eceb394af0ee99f36be0b60f35f8fff21e3129&fmt INTRODUCTION One of the primary areas of focus for media researchers has been the effects that mediated messages have on the construction of meaning. In other words, how do the messages people co
affect the way they view and understand the world? The follow-up to this question is often, how does this new understanding of the world affect behavior? One of the key figures in media res
these questions was George Gerbner, Dean of the Annenburg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Gerbner, along with several associates, developed a theory that p
between television viewing and perceptions of reality (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997). Cultivation Theory Cultivation theory essentially holds that television viewing is a primary factor in cultivating a particular culture's beliefs about the everyday world (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997). For exam
police dramas on television, that individual is likely to form perceptions about crime-fighting procedures from this viewing experience. Gerbner knew that television was becoming an importan
life, and suspected that it was quickly replacing in importance institutions like family, school, and church in the enculturation process (Gerbner & Gross, 1976). In today's age, when nearly ev
television, it is easy to imagine how the idea of what is real and what is fiction can become distorted. With that in mind, Gerbner and his colleagues set about trying to measure that distortion
Evidence for a Cultivation Effect In Gerbner's analysis of the effect of viewing violent television content on perception cultivation, he divided two populations into groups of heavy viewers of television (four or more hours daily
or less daily). His prediction was that heavy viewers would exhibit more of an effect on the perception of how violent society is than light viewers. Gerbner also did a content analysis of prime
(including weekend children's programming) and found that 80% of this content portrayed acts of violence (Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997). Children's programs (such as cartoons) were f
all. Gerbner, as he and his colleagues expected, found that heavy viewers thought of the world as a more violent place than light viewers. They were found to have a higher sense that they them
violent act, and they tended to overestimate the degree of law enforcement that exists in society. Gerbner's conclusion: the more one views television, the more likely one is to confuse reality
also discovered that cultivation effects were more evident in those under the age of thirty, a demographic that had been weaned on television more than the over-thirty group. These findings
evidence for the existence of cultivation effects, but there have been concerns raised as to the soundness of cultivation theory.
Mainstreaming and Resonance In response to (and in anticipation of) criticism of the theory, Gerbner and his associates introduced the concepts of mainstreaming and resonance to cultivation theory. Mainstreaming is the
on perceptions. In other words, media content, in an effort to appeal to the largest demographic possible, tends to produce a popular image of society with which most viewers will identify. Th
image of society. For example, most television sitcoms feature characters with a standard, Midwestern English dialect, even when the settings of these shows are in the Northeast or the Sou
this could lead to a distortion of how prevalent other dialects are, which would be another type of cultivation effect. Resonance is the amplification of a cultivation effect due to a real-life
individual were a heavy viewer of television and had been mugged on two occasions, he or she would likely believe the world to be even more violent than other heavy viewers due to the ad
combination with perceptions affected by television viewing.
Criticisms of Cultivation Theory Despite the seemingly convincing evidence for the existence of a cultivation effect, it is important to make note of some of the criticisms of the theory. Researchers like John Condry (1989) h
and his colleagues failed to make accurate enough note of what specific television content was being viewed, beyond the initial content analysis. Thus, certain individuals could have been w
programming and Gerbner's team would not have known. In addition, some critics such as McQuail and Windahl (1993) argue that other variables (like socio-economic standing, regional bac
potential contributing factors), could have been underemphasized in the cultivation studies. Finally, individual motivations for consuming media could shed more light on the actual degree of
studies, particularly studies outside of the United States (Wober, 1978), have been conducted and suggest a more minimal effect of television viewing on perceptions of real-world violence. Social Learning Theory and the Media Another theory that has been applied to the question of the effect of media on human understanding is Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory. Bandura maintained that the media can be a
formation of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors through modeling behavior observed in the media (Bandura, 1986). Bandura noted how social learning (acquiring social skills) often occurred thr
social model. The models, especially in contemporary society, are often individuals observed via the media, like characters from television shows or films. This assumption has lead to a num
including the famous Bobo Doll experiment. Bandura and his associates, in an attempt to measure the effect of violent programming and children's behavior, arranged to show a film that dep
female violently attacking a clown. Bandura had discovered that adults are important models of children's behavior, thus the actors in the films were adults, though certainly children model be
well. After the children viewed the film, they were placed in a room containing a three-foot Bobo the Clown doll where they were allowed to play unsupervised. Bandura discovered a heighten
behavior toward the clown in those children who had observed the violent film. Further, there was a higher instance of violent behavior in the children who viewed a version of the film in whic
were rewarded for their behavior. This is one of the studies that has been used to support the idea that violent media produces higher instances of violent behavior. There have been many o
CONCLUSION The link between the media and cognitive elements such as attitudes, beliefs, and corresponding behavior has been and continues to be a central question in media study. George Gerbner a
ability of television to cultivate perceptions of the world we live in, Albert Bandura, in developing his Social Learning Theory, went on to suggest that television and film can influence behavior
Researchers continue to examine these questions to explain the potentiality of such effects more succinctly.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Condry, J. (1989). The psychology of television. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Gerbner, G., & Gross, L. (1976). Living with television: The violence profile. Journal of Communication, 26(2), 173-199.
Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
McQuail, D., & Windahl. S. (1993). Communication models for the study of mass communication. London: Longman.
Wober, J. M. (1978). Televised violence and paranoid perception: The view from Great Britain. Public Opinion Quarterly, 42, 315-321. RESOURCES
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2012 for the course COM 126 taught by Professor Phillips during the Spring '10 term at Grand Canyon.
- Spring '10