Cultivating+the+Opinionated+Postprint.doc

Consistent opinions that are accessible when a

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consistent opinions that are accessible when a judgment is needed (Shrum, Burroughs, & Rindfleisch, 2004; Shrum & Lee, 2012; Shrum, Lee, Burroughs, & Rindfleisch, 2011). This part of the cultivation typology may be problematic, however, as it is at odds with attitude theory: survey respondents are often unable to retrieve previously formed evaluations and therefore have to rely on memory-based processing when prompted for their opinion (e.g., Schwarz, 2007). 1 The present paper will discuss the relevance of memory-based attitude construction for second-order cultivation processes. In particular, it will focus on the Need to Evaluate (NTE), a personality trait reflecting a chronic motive to form and maintain strong evaluations (Jarvis & Petty, 1996; Petty & Jarvis, 1996). Whereas high NTE individuals fit with the assumptions made by the online model of cultivation - they spontaneously evaluate information online and hold strong opinions about a variety of subjects – low NTE individuals often only construct an opinion when required (i.e. memory-based; Tormala & Petty, 2001). Because such attitude constructions are the outcome of temporarily salient information in memory, numerous incidental factors can influence the eventual judgment. This would seem to limit the probability of finding second-order
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NEED TO EVALUATE MODERATES CULTIVATION EFFECTS 5 cultivation relationships, and it suggests that correlations between television viewing and attitude reports may only exist among high NTE individuals Literature Review Cultivation theory Cultivation theory proposes that, over time, the stories television tells about the world should shape viewers’ perceptions of reality. Because television programs overuse violence as an element of storytelling, such perceptions should be heavily biased. Early studies indeed found television viewing to correlate with perceptions of, and beliefs in, a dangerous world (e.g. Gerbner & Gross, 1976). Nonetheless, the correlations were small and no explanations were offered for the psychological mechanisms at work. This left open the possibility that so-called cultivation effects were no more than methodological artifacts (e.g., Hirsch, 1980), and scholars realized the psychological “black box” (Shanahan & Morgan, 1999, p. 172) needed to be addressed. Hawkins and Pingree (1982) were the first to formulate a solution. In their model, the cultivation process was assumed to consist of two distinct steps: acquiring factual information from television ( learning ) and integrating that information into beliefs about social reality ( construction ). Based on this logic, some scholars hypothesized that respondents’ answers to factual first-order cultivation questions (category size, frequency, or probability judgments) would mediate the relationship between television viewing and second-order evaluations (opinions and attitudes) (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986; Hawkins, Pingree, & Adler, 1987). Studies have failed to find support for this approach, however, suggesting to some that the two types of judgments are unrelated (Hawkins et al., 1987; Shrum & O’Guinn, 1993).
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