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Media Effects

Media Effects



A brief summary of the research deployed in 'media effects' debates.

A brief summary of the research deployed in 'media effects' debates.



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Media Effects Media Effects Presentation Transcript

  • Media effects research Jim Barratt 10 October 2006
  • Aim
    • Introduction to media effects research, with a
    • focus on violence.
    • Part one
    • Types of effects
    • Historical context
    • Hypotheses
    • Methods
    • Public debate
    • Other approaches
    • Part two
    • Clips:
    • Violence
    • TV debate
  • Types of media effects
    • Negative
    • e.g. aggression
    • Positive
    • e.g. 'pro-social behaviour'
    • (Influences
    • Negative: 'moral decline', body image, stereotyping etc.
    • Positive: informed democracy etc.)
  • Historical context
    • 1930s: Payne Fund studies
    • 1960s: Behavioural science
    • 1980s: Moral crusade
  • Hypotheses (1)
    • Imitation
    • Social Learning Theory- Bandura et al (1960s). Children
    • learn by imitating significant others.
    • Identification
    • As above but viewers more likely to imitate characters they
    • identify with.
    • Triggering
    • Media provide cues for behaviour, e.g. violence rather than
    • talk used to resolve conflict.
  • Hypotheses (2)
    • Instigation (arousal)
    • Viewing arouses people and when levels of arousal reach a
    • peak it results in an outburst of violence.
    • Desensitisation
    • Viewers' responses to real life violence are dulled by
    • exposure to media violence.
    • Disinhibition
    • Everyone has a propensity for violence but we are
    • socialised to inhibit our impulses. Media weaken our
    • inhibitions.
  • Hypotheses (3)
    • Reinforement
    • In contrast this theory says only certain people have a
    • violent disposition and the media reinforce this
    • propensity.
    • This has found the strongest support in the
    • research literature, but causality is hard to prove:
    • Are violent people more likely to watch violent films
    • (i.e. correlation), or do violent portrayals increase violent
    • tendencies (i.e. causality)?
  • Hypotheses (4)
    • Cultivation - an ideological effect
    • Gerbner et al (1970/80s): media cultivate in viewers a
    • particular view of the world, including about levels of
    • violence and crime (e.g. leading to a greater fear of crime).
    • Catharsis - pro-social effect
    • Feshbach and Singer (1970s): following Aristotle, drama
    • provides a safe outlet for venting aggression etc. without
    • resorting to violence.
  • Methods (1)
    • Laboratory studies
    • 'From the point of view of testing scientific theories in a rigorous
    • manner…experimental laboratory studies are without doubt the
    • method of choice' (Eysenck and Nias, 1980)
    • Pros
    • Can control experimental conditions;
    • Use of control groups;
    • Can be easily replicated.
    • Cons
    • Artificial conditions (i.e. not 'real life');
    • Heavy reliance on undergraduate students as participants;
    • Experimenter effects (e.g. coercion).
  • Methods (2)
    • Surveys
    • e.g. Parliamentary Group Video Enquiry, 1983.
    • Pros
    • Provides insights into self-reported viewing habits and opinions about violence;
    • Sampling enables statistical generalisation.
    • Cons
    • Self-reported behaviour may be unreliable due to poor recollection, desire to please the researcher or avoid being seen in negative light;
    • Can only establish correlation between viewing habits and violence, not causation;
    • Questions must be unambiguous and not leading.
  • Methods (3)
    • Natural or found experiments
    • e.g. Hennigan et al (1982), which looked at different uptake rates of TV
    • in the USA in late 1940s/early 1950s compared with local crime rates.
    • Pros
    • Wholly naturalistic research conditions.
    • Cons
    • Cannot control confounding variables (e.g. cinemagoing in the Hennigan study);
    • Difficult to find proper experimental controls.
  • Methods (4)
    • Longitudinal studies
    • e.g. Children in the Community study (Johnson et al, 2002), which
    • found aggressive individuals are more likely to be heavy TV viewers.
    • Pros
    • Can measure change over time and longer-term 'effects'.
    • Cons
    • Tend to be survey or interview based, reliant on self-reported data.
    • Can establish a correlation not causality.
  • Public debate
    • Prevailing view in public discourse:
    • Media are powerful, audiences are passive
    • 'Television is a powerful medium, and young people are
    • uniquely susceptible to it' (Strasburger, 1995)
    • Other key element: the protection of children and calls for greater censorship
  • Other approaches
    • The growth of reception studies, which look at audience interpretation, coupled with what is known as the 'ethnographic' turn in research has led to a reappraisal by media academics of the audience as 'active'.
    • Work by researchers like David Buckingham (IoE) and Sonia Livingstone (LSE) has revisited the child audience to find out what they make of the media they consume.
    • This tradition is not without its own challenges (not least a reliance on children's accounts of their behaviour) but it does shift focus from censorship to media education.
  • http://www.BiggerPictureResearch.net