COMMlong1 - 1 How Media Contribute to Misperceptions of...

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1 How Media Contribute to Misperceptions of Social Norms About Sex Theoretical Framework Mass media portrays college students as overtly sexual therefore they perceive themselves in that manner. This study looks at how the media affects the sexual norms of college students and how perceived norms influence them to do what they do. It shows that peer norms have a large impact on college students and their sexual experiences, which is proved by cross sectional and longitudinal data (Chia and Gunther, 2006, p. 301). This is an example of pluralistic ignorance, which is a false belief about a group of people that is shared by another group. This shows that there are inconsistencies between actual and perceived public opinion, people either over or underestimate the beliefs of others. This leads to the first hypothesis; the perceived peer norms about sex reported by college students are more permissive than actual peer norms (Chia and Gunther, 2006, p. 303). Which shows that media portrayals create the college students misrepresentations of each other. The first theory presented is the cultivation effect that describes the effect of television viewing. It states that television shows consistent images and values and these reoccurring images make people believe that is their real life – it is also known as “universal curriculum” (Chia and Gunther, 2006, p. 303). When the theory was first developed television was the main type of media, but now the theory includes all types. Another facet of this theory is the impersonal impact hypothesis. This argues that media content primarily affects perceptions of the conditions of others lives, as opposed to one’s own. Relating this to sex and young adults, the more sex-related media viewed means higher estimates of sexual relations in the real world. The second hypothesis is: Among college students, higher levels of media consumption will be associated with perceptions of more permissive peer norms about sex (Chia and Gunther, 2006, p. 304).
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2 The next two hypotheses come from the persuasive press inference. This states that people base their assessments of others attitudes and beliefs on their media influences. It can be inaccurate at times because it is easily exaggerated. This brings up the third hypothesis.
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