Applying Social Psychology To The Media

SOC 727 Applied Social Psychology

Background Information

There has been a dramatic increase in the ways in which people access the media

(book emphasizes television because it is based on past studies)

A longitudinal survey following children from elementary school, up until their 20s found that “Violent people are no more likely to watch violent TV programs than are nonviolent people” (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski, & Eron, 2003).

However hundreds of studies have found that TV violence increases violent behavior (Bushman, Huesmann, & Whitaker, 2009)

Vast majority of research studies do not support the idea that TV violence has a cathartic effect (Bandura, 2009)

Background continued

Quasi-experiments on exposure to TV violence have revealed that television has an impact on aggression

Meta-analysis of 230 experimental studies of media violence with 100,000 participants reveal that exposure resulted in higher levels of aggressive behaviors (Hearold, 1986).

More research is needed on fantasy violence and multiplayer online role-playing games’ impacts on aggression

Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior is overdetermined

The Bobo Doll study (Bandura, Ross & Ross,1963) revealed the complexities of imitative violence

Vicarious Learning The performing of a behavior because one observes it being rewarded.

Social Cognitive Theory

4 processes must occur for vicarious learning


How salient and attractive is the behavior to the individual

2. Representational Process

Remembering what was modeled

3. Behavioral Production Process

How to perform what was modeled

4. Motivational Process

How motivated are you to carry out the behavior?

What Influences One’s Motivation To Act?

1. Rewarding of violent behavior

2. Viewer perception of the violent behavior being justified

3. Viewer perception of the violence as realistic

4. Viewer identifying with or liking the perpetrator of the violent behavior

5. Desensitization

Efforts To Counter Effects of Violence

Decrease the reward value of violence

Empathy manipulation

Nathanson and Cantor (2000) found that when children were told to identify with the victim, they expressed less aggressive attitudes.

Priming, Aggressive Thoughts, & Media Violence

Neoassociationistic model of media priming (Berkowitz 1984)

This creates associative pathways

Network models of memory

The sight of a gun may trigger nodes that related to crime and violence, thus priming you to behave in or feel a certain way.

Priming, Aggressive Thoughts, & Media Violence

TV operates as a primary socializing agent

Cultivation Theory suggests that through this means, one may feel that the world is more dangerous or violent than it actually is.

Exposure to Pornography

Men carry more negative attitudes toward women with increased viewings of nonviolent pornographic materials

Violent pornographic material results in serious psychological effects (whether one has short-term exposure to it or long-term exposure)

Men and women have more negative views of family life with viewings of nonviolent pornographic materials.

Political News Coverage

Agenda Setting takes place and influences the viewer to see a particular issue as salient.

Framing refers to how a particular story may be presented

Strategy Frame vs. Issue Frame

– Cappella and Jamieson (1997) found that reading articles with a strategy frame increased participants’ cynicism towards politics more than articles with issue frames.








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