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Resourcd File

  1. 1. Media influences on prosocial behaviour: Match the numbers with the letters. 1) Developmental trends in prosocial influence: Eisenberg believes that children develop prosocial reasoning with age and so therefore there may be developmental trends in the influence of prosocial media. This is supported by research that shows that younger children are less able to recognise other people’s emotions and don’t know what to do to help others. (Mares 1996). A) Such a huge amount of television watching can be argued to have an important effect on viewers but it doesn’t take into account how people learn prosocial behaviour when they do not have a television or are exposed to far less television than their peers (perhaps not owning a television in their own house.) 2) Social Learning Theory: In addition to using Bandura’s theory for antisocial behaviour, we can also use it to explain why people act prosocially after they have watched a role model do so. In fact, explanations for prosocial behaviour seem to be even more valid because children expect to carry out the positive actions and be rewarded for them, which is much more in accordance with developed social norms in the real world. If a child has seen someone be rewarded on the television for positive behaviour, the theory states that they are much more likely to imitate the behaviour. B) According to a large body of research, prosocial effects have more of an impact and therefore influence on younger children than adolescents. This actually counteracts Eisenberg’s (1987) theory that we develop more perspective- taking, empathy and moral reasoning the older we get. However, Midlarsky and Hannah (1985) believe that younger children may be more likely to show imitated prosocial behaviour because they think it will bring them rewards, whereas adolescents are more likely to imitate prosocial behaviour for selfless reasons. 3) The pervasiveness of television: Most children in the UK and America watch approximately 25 hours a week of television. This is highest at around the age of 6 and lowers during adolescence. It then increases during adult years and we spend the most hours per week watching television when we are elderly. 4) Exposure to prosocial messages: It is often perceived that children are overexposed to violence in the media, but when you look, it becomes clear that they are also exposed to a lot of prosocial messages. According to an early content analysis in America, there are 11 altruistic acts and six sympathetic behaviours per hour of TV, on average. (Sprafkin et al, 1975). C) There is a large body of research which supports the idea that prosocial messages do influence children’s values and behaviours. For example, Mares (1996), who did a meta- analysis of 39 different studies found that Children who viewed positive interactions acted more positively in their own interactions than children who had viewed neutral or antisocial interactions. Children who watched counter- stereotypical portrayals of gender and ethnicity showed less evidence of prejudice and stereotyping in their own attitudes. Children who viewed altruistic behaviours tended to share, donate, offer, help and comfort more. Children who viewed others exercising self- control tended to resist temptation, obey rules and work better independently. D) Real life models seem to have more of an impact on behaviour than models on the television. Prosocial acts on the television do have an impact on behaviour but these tend to be short- lived and don’t tend to be generalised to new environments. However, Eisenberg (1983) believes that prolonged exposure to prosocial programming does cause substantial and long- lasting increases in children’s prosocial behaviour. However, in order to be able to repeat the act, children have to notice it and it has been found that prosocial acts tend to be quite subtle and hard to pick- up on whereas antisocial acts are easier to spot and remember and therefore copy.

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