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P S Y C H O L O G Y A L E V E L P S Y A
4 S e c t i o n B
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A LEVEL PSYCHOLOGY - PSYA4: MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY
M E D I A I N F L U E N C E S O N S O C I A L B E H A V I O U R
 EXPLANATION...
o GRUSEC, KORTSAAK & SIMUTIS (1978) aimed to establish whether moral preaching is more effective than role modelling as a ...
creates in us (guilt, fear of reprisal / consequences, etc.,) - i.e., the anxiety that violence causes inhibits it. Seeing...
o how research relates to theory/models
o implications of the research for real world application
 EXPLANATIONS OF MEDIA ...
 Shotton (1989) conducted a study in the UK, surveying 127 people (about 50% of them children) who reported being addicte...
NEGATIVE EFFECTS / RISKS
 Matthews et al (2006) showed that video games can have a short-term effect on the functioning o...
hard to compare an early text-based adventure game with next generation high-definition first-person shooters
 THE POSITI...
According to the model, the sequential stages in the process of attitude change are: attention, comprehension, reactance, ...
June 2013
Describe one explanation for the persuasiveness of television advertising. (4 marks)
 EXPLANATIONS FOR THE PERS...
SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF CELEBRITY ATTRACTION
 SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
Some concepts from SLT can help to expl...
Evaluation of evolutionary explanations of celebrity attraction
o supported by the anecdotal evidence that women are more ...
than nothing - hence the ‘intense fan’ may write to try to contact the celebrity to ask for advice and guidance - which lo...
subscales correlated positively and significantly with anxiety and depression scores. Maltby et al concluded that the sign...
psychiatry centre in the US for treatment. Most of these stalkers were men (79%) and many were unemployed (39%); over half...
Summer 2012
Outline one or more evolutionary explanations of the attraction of ‘celebrity’. (4 marks)
January 2013
Outline...
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  1. 1. 1 P S Y C H O L O G Y A L E V E L P S Y A 4 S e c t i o n B 
  2. 2. A LEVEL PSYCHOLOGY - PSYA4: MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY M E D I A I N F L U E N C E S O N S O C I A L B E H A V I O U R  EXPLANATIONS OF MEDIA INFLUENCES ON PRO- AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR Explanations of media influences on pro-social behavior Social Learning Theory. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory of aggression can be applied to explaining media influences on pro-social behaviour. The theory suggests that people use others as models to regulate their own behaviour and to learn new things. People (particularly children) imitate models that they see portrayed on television or in other forms of media. Imitation is more likely if the observer identifies with the model in some way, if the context in which the behaviour is observed is realistic and if the model is rewarded (vicarious reinforcement). Repetition of the behaviour is likely if the individual then receives direct reinforcement (maintenance). Programmes such as Sesame Street include many situations and characters designed to provide pro-social models for children. Evaluation of Social Learning Theory  supported by some research evidence  research has shown that exposure to filmed models has less effect than exposure to real-life models  research has shown that the effect of social learning is often not generalised to new settings  practical and ethical problems of carrying out research to support the explanation Cognitive Priming Theory. According to Berkowitz’s (1984) Cognitive Priming Theory, pro-social behaviours in TV programmes can activate (or ‘spark off’) other pro-social thoughts in viewers through their association in memory pathways. Immediately after seeing an example of pro-social behaviour, the viewer is ‘primed’ to respond pro-socially because the memory network involving pro-social behaviour is activated. Frequent exposure to pro-social behaviour may lead children to store ‘scripts’ for pro-social behaviour in their memories, and these may be recalled in a later situation if any aspect of the original situation (even a superficial one) is present. Evaluation of Cognitive Priming Theory  supported by some research evidence  difficult to separate out whether research evidence supports this theory or SLT Research studies into media influences on pro-social behaviour o SPRAFKIN, LIEBERT & POULOS (1975) studied 6 year olds. Some watched an episode of Lassie in which a boy was seen to risk his life to rescue a puppy from a mine shaft. Other groups of children saw a different episode of Lassie in which no helping was involved, or they saw an episode of a situation-comedy called The Brady Bunch. After watching the programme, all the children had the chance to help some distressed puppies. However, to do so they had to stop playing a game in which they might have won a big prize. The children that had watched the rescue from the mine shaft spent an average of over 90 seconds helping the puppies, compared to less than 50 seconds by the children watching the other programmes. 2
  3. 3. o GRUSEC, KORTSAAK & SIMUTIS (1978) aimed to establish whether moral preaching is more effective than role modelling as a technique to increase pro-social behaviour in children. They conducted a field experiment in a research caravan in a school playground. Their sample was a group of children aged from 8 to 10. All the children were tested individually. The children were invited to the research caravan to play a marble-bowling game in which they could win marbles; in fact, the game was fixed and the reality was that all the children won marbles regardless of how they played. Nearby was a bowl of marbles above which was a poster stating “Help poor children: marbles buy gifts”. An adult (same sex role-model) played the game first and then each child was tested in one of four conditions: (i.) the adult told the child to donate marbles and gave some themselves (preaching and modelling); (ii.) the adult told the child to donate marbles but gave none themselves (preaching only); (iii.) the adult said nothing to the child but donated some marbles (modelling only); (iv.) the adult said nothing and donated no marbles (no preaching, no modelling). The child was then left alone to play the game and observed through a one-way mirror. It was found that the majority of children who saw the adult give marbles (modelling) did so themselves, regardless of what was said or not said (preaching). Only a few of the children who saw the adult not giving marbles did so, although preaching had a small effect here. When asked to play the game three weeks later, very few children donated any marbles regardless of the previous experimental condition. o BARON et al (1979) randomly allocated children aged between seven and nine to watch one of three clips from The Waltons. The first group watched a clip showing co-operative behaviour. The second watched a clip with non-co-operative behaviour, and the third watched a neutral clip. Following this, an accomplice of the experimenter walked past and dropped a pile of books. The researchers found that children that had watched the co-operative clip were quicker and more likely to help than those in the other two groups. o ROSENKOETTER (1999) studied a sample of American children aged between five and nine, and measured the amount of time they spent watching pro-social sitcoms (e.g., The Cosby Show). The childrens’ parents were asked about how much helpful behaviour their children demonstrated. Rosenkoetter found a positive correlation between the two variables - children who watched more pro-social sitcoms showed higher levels of helpful behaviour. Evaluative issues in research studies of media influences on pro-social behaviour o methodological issues - limitations of correlational research - operationalisation of variables - internal validity (control of confounding variables; participant variables; demand characteristics) - ecological validity - population validity and sampling issues o ethical issues o comparison/contrast of findings from different research methods/settings o how research relates to theory/models o implications of the research for real world application Explanations of media influences on anti-social behaviour Social Learning Theory. Exactly the same principles apply to explaining anti-social behaviour as for pro-social behaviour. Cognitive Priming Theory. Exactly the same principles apply to explaining anti-social behaviour as pro-social behaviour. Desensitisation. This model suggests that we are naturally aggressive and violent but we don’t behave aggressively / violently because of the anxiety it 3
  4. 4. creates in us (guilt, fear of reprisal / consequences, etc.,) - i.e., the anxiety that violence causes inhibits it. Seeing violence on tv makes us feel less anxious about aggression / violence - the more we see it, the more acceptable it comes and the less anxious we feel about it… thus the more likely we are to be violent ourselves. So - violence on tv doesn’t stimulate aggressive feelings (as we already have these), it stimulates aggressive behaviour. Research studies into media influences on anti-social behaviour o ERON & HUESMANN (1985) aimed to investigate the developmental implications for children of viewing violent tv programmes - specifically, they were interested in finding out to what extent viewing violent tv programmes would influence future anti-social / aggressive behaviour. Their sample was 875 8 year old males. In a 22 year longitudinal study, viewing preferences of the 8 year olds were compared with aggressive behaviour exhibited in normal activities. The sample was then followed up at age 19 and then again at age 30. The findings were as follows: violent viewing was associated with aggressiveness at age 8; viewing violence at age 8 predicted aggressiveness at age 19; aggressiveness at age 8 did not predict viewing violence at age 19; at age 30, those men who had watched a high degree of tv violence at age 8 were more likely to have been convicted of a serious crime. o MILLARSKY et al (1982) aimed to assess the link between tv viewing habits and anti-social behaviour. Their sample was 3200 children aged from 7 to 16. This was a longitudinal, correlational investigation. Over a three year period, participants were interviewed six times. At each interview they reported which tv programmes (rated for violent content) they watched (variable 1 = level of aggressive tv watched). Self and peer ratings of aggression were also obtained (variable 2 = peer/self-ratings of aggression). The researchers found a small positive correlation between the two co- variables. However, it was relatively minor compared to the impact of family background, social environment and school performance. They concluded that tv violence accounts for only a very small amount of aggression. o HUESMANN et al (2003) studied the relationship between exposure to violent TV over the previous 15 years and levels of physical aggression in adults. This was a longitudinal study originally involving 550 children aged five to eight. The study controlled for socio-economic status, IQ, parental education and initial levels of aggressiveness. 400 of the participants were followed up in their early twenties, and their levels of aggressiveness were measured again. The researchers found a positive correlation between the amount of violent television watched in childhood and how aggressive the participants were as adults. Specifically: in the male participants, a positive correlation was found between the amount of violent tv watched and both physical and verbal aggression; in female participants, a positive correlation was found between amount of violent v watched and verbal aggression only. The researchers concluded that: ‘We need to be aware that media violence can affect any child from any family.’ o JOSEPHSON (1987). Boy ice hockey players were deliberately frustrated and then shown a violent or non-violent film where an actor held a walkie-talkie. After this, the boys then played a game of ice hockey. Josephson found that the boys behaved most aggressively if they had seen the violent film and then subsequently the referee in their game was holding a walkie-talkie. According to Josephson, since there were ‘cues’ in the violent film that mirrored aspects of their own game, these results support the idea of cognitive priming. Evaluative issues in research studies of media influences on anti-social behaviour o methodological issues - limitations of correlational research - operationalisation of variables - internal validity (control of confounding variables; participant variables; demand characteristics) o ethical issues o comparison / contrast of findings from different research methods/settings 4
  5. 5. o how research relates to theory/models o implications of the research for real world application  EXPLANATIONS OF MEDIA INFLUENCES ON PRO- AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR – PAST EXAM QUESTIONS June 2010 (a) ‘It has been suggested that people who watch violent media images may be encouraged to imitate the violence. Television and film producers frequently reject this view.’ Discuss what psychological research has told us about some of the media influences on anti-social behaviour. (5 marks + 6 marks) January 2011 (a) Outline and evaluate one psychological explanation of media influence on pro-social behaviour. (4 marks + 4 marks) January 2012 (b) Researchers conducted a study of media influences on anti-social behaviour. The researchers asked child participants to name their favourite TV programmes. Fifteen years later, the researchers assessed the same participants for levels of anti-social behaviour. Two measures of adult anti-social behaviour were obtained for each participant. Measure A: The researchers interviewed a person who knew the participant well and asked them about the participant’s behaviour. Measure B: The researchers studied official records of the participant’s criminal convictions. The researchers concluded that there was a link between watching violent TV programmes as a child and levels of adult aggression. Other than ethical issues, explain two methodological problems involved in the study described above. (4 marks) Summer 2012 Discuss psychological research into media influences on pro-social behavior. (4 + 6 marks) January 2013 Discuss one or more explanations of media influence on pro-social behavior. (4 + 6 marks) POSSIBLE QUESTIONS Discuss what research has told us about the effects of the media on pro-social behavior. (4 + 8 marks) Explain methodological and/or ethical issues that arise in research into the effects of the media on pro- and/or anti-social behaviour. (8 marks)  THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF COMPUTERS AND VIDEO GAMES ON BEHAVIOUR POSITIVE EFFECTS / BENEFITS 5
  6. 6.  Shotton (1989) conducted a study in the UK, surveying 127 people (about 50% of them children) who reported being addicted to home computer games for at least five years. Shotton found that compared with a control group of ‘non-addicts’, those in the addicted group were highly intelligent, motivated and high-achieving people. Furthermore, a five-year longitudinal study of the ‘addicted’ participants found that a proportionately high number had done well educationally, gone on to university and secured high-ranking jobs.  Kestenbaum & Weinstein (1985) conducted a study into heavy computer game use in adolescent male participants and its relationship with personality and psychopathological factors. They found that playing computer games has a calming effect, in that they can help manage conflict and can discharge aggression by allowing the open expression of competition.  Greitemeyer & Osswald (2010). To test the relationship between prosocial video games and helping behaviour, Greitemeyer and Osswald conducted four separate experiments. In the first experiment, participants played either the prosocial video game Lemmings, the aggressive game Lamers, or Tetris. After playing the video game for eight minutes, the researcher told the participant that the experiment had ended and then, while reaching for a questionnaire, knocked a cup of pencils off a table and onto the floor. Whether or not the participant helped the researcher pick up the pencils was recorded. Of those who played the game Lemmings, 67% helped the researcher, while only 33% of those who had played Tetris helped and only 28% of those who played Lamers helped. In the second experiment, participants played either Lemmings or Tetris. After eight minutes, the participants were informed that the experiment had ended and asked if they were willing to assist in further studies. If willing to assist in a further study, they were also asked how much time they were willing to devote. Similar to the results of the first experiment, those who had played the prosocial video game Lemmings were more likely to agree to assist in further research than those who played the neutral video game Tetris. They also tended to agree to devoting more time. In the third experiment, the participants played either the prosocial game City Crisis or Tetris. At the end of this experiment, a confederate entered the room and pretended to be the ex-boyfriend of one of the female researchers. This confederate harassed the female researcher by shouting, kicking a trash can, and eventually attempting to pull her out of the room by her arm. If the participant intervened in this situation, then the ex-boyfriend left the room. If after two minutes the participant had not intervened, then another researcher entered and removed the rowdy ex- boyfriend. As in the first two experiments, those who had played the prosocial video game were more likely to help than those who had not. According to Greitemeyer and Osswald, “56% of the participants in the prosocial video game condition helped, whereas 22% in the neutral video game condition did so.” The fourth and final experiment replicated the first experiment, except the participant was also instructed to write down all the thoughts that he or she had while playing the video game. As Greitemeyer and Osswald expected, those who played Lemmings wrote down more prosocial thoughts compared to those who played Tetris. In all of these experiments, the participants were told that the goal of the experiment was to test the enjoyability of classic video games and none of them seemed to suspect what the real goal of the experiment was. According to Greitemeyer and Osswald, the increased likelihood of helping after playing a prosocial video game is probably the result of an increased accessibility to prosocial cognitions. As they explain, “In none of our experiments could affective measures account for the effect of playing a prosocial video game on prosocial behaviour. In sum, it appears that the effect of playing video games on social behaviour works primarily through the cognitive route, and this can be applied to negative effects of violent video games as well as to positive effects of prosocial video games.”  Gentile et al (2009) found that games with a pro-social theme can promote helping behaviour in children who play them.  Mellecker at al (2008) found that some active games allow children to use up more energy compared to sitting watching TV.  Valkenburg and Peter (2009) found that internet communication can nurture existing friendships and help children who are self-conscious and shy to communicate. 6
  7. 7. NEGATIVE EFFECTS / RISKS  Matthews et al (2006) showed that video games can have a short-term effect on the functioning of different areas of the brain. In their study, 44 adolescents were randomly assigned to play either a violent video game (Medal of Honor) or a non-violent but equally fun and exciting video game (Need for Speed) for 30 minutes. Using fMRI, brain structure and function was measured immediately after the 30 minutes had elapsed. Those who played the violent game showed increased activity in the amygdala. This part of the limbic system stimulates emotions. However, there was also decreased activity in the pre-frontal lobe, which regulates inhibition, self-control and concentration. These responses were not present in those who played the non-violent game.  Lin & Lepper (1987) investigated whether the frequency with which young children played computer games was correlated with their impulsiveness and aggressiveness. The study involved male and female youngsters in Florida who were asked about their computer game use and perceptions of their own aggressiveness and impulsiveness. These were then compared with various ratings supplied by their teachers. Impulsiveness and aggressiveness were significantly correlated with the frequency of game playing in boys, but not in girls.  Excessive gaming has been linked to aggressive behaviour (Gruesser et al, 2007); one suggestion is that children who have an existing aggressive predisposition are more likely to be adversely influenced. It is also thought that for children who play such games frequently, their judgment about what is real and what is fantasy becomes blurred. This could be attributed to desensitisation to violence.  There are growing concerns about obesity levels in young people. One contributory factor is that they spend much of their time sitting down engaged in screen-based activity. While active video games use up more energy than watching TV, energy expenditure nowhere near matches that of actual physical activity e.g., walking, playing football etc., (Graves et al, 2009, Sproston and Primatesta, 2003).  Children can have poorer relationships with family and friends if they spend too much time on their computers (Padilla-Walker, 2009, Nie and Ebring, 2000).  Children can become 'addicted' to the internet or to game-playing (Young, 1998).  Although internet communication can help to nurture existing friendships, it can lead to unhealthy relationships - social networking websites need to be carefully monitored by parents (Byron, 2008). Evaluative issues in conducting research into the effects of computers and video games on behaviour  problems of measuring subsequent behaviour  sampling issues (generalisability)  possible confounding variables - e.g., previous experience of playing games, other social, cultural and personality factors  ethical considerations  difficulty in distinguishing between short and long-term effects  problem with drawing causal conclusions from correlational studies  difficulties in manipulating the IV  difficulties in controlling extraneous variables  implications for policy and practice  video and computer game research is only a few decades old but meanwhile its object has changed a lot - as Kirriemuir & McFarlane (2004) argue, it is 7
  8. 8. hard to compare an early text-based adventure game with next generation high-definition first-person shooters  THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF COMPUTERS AND VIDEO GAMES ON BEHAVIOUR – PAST EXAM QUESTIONS January 2010 (a) ‘Content analysis has shown that many video games have violent themes. Many of these games are aimed at adolescents. There is a growing concern that such games encourage violent behaviour in the young people who play them.’ (i) Explain some of the difficulties of conducting research into the effects of playing video games. (5 marks) (ii) Discuss what psychological research has told us about some of the effects of video games on young people. (5 marks + 5 marks) June 2011 (a) A local school head teacher wants to produce a leaflet for parents about the possible effects of video games and computers on young people. Suggest what information should be included in the leaflet. Use your knowledge of psychological research in this area to justify your advice. (10 marks) June 2013 Discuss what research studies have told us about the positive effects of computers and/or video games on behavior. (4 marks + 6 marks) POSSIBLE QUESTIONS Explain one or more ethical issues that arise in research into the effects of computer games on behavior. (4 marks) Outline threats to validity that arise when researching the effects of computer and video games on behavior. (8 marks) M E D I A A N D P E R S U A S I O N  THE APPLICATION OF HOVLAND-YALE AND ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODELS IN EXPLAINING THE PERSUASIVE EFFECTS OF MEDIA ‘Persuasion’ is the process of actively changing someone’s (or a group of people’s) attitudes, beliefs, behaviours. The Hovland-Yale Model and Petty and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood model are two different theories/explanations for how and why the media is effective in persuading the audience to change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. The Hovland-Yale Model. This model was developed in the 1950s by Carl Hovland and colleagues at Yale University. They were initially interested in seeing how propaganda could be used to support the American war effort but then turned their attention to a slightly broader study of persuasion. They believed that the key to predicting whether a piece of communication would succeed in persuading its audience was to study the characteristics of: - WHO: the person(s) presenting the message - i.e., the source (experts are generally more persuasive than non-experts, celebrities are more persuasive than non-celebrities, attractive people are more persuasive than unattractive, etc) - WHAT: the contents of the message (whether the argument is one-or two-sided, repeated exposure, fear) - HOW: the medium in which the message is transmitted - TO WHOM: the receiver of the message - i.e., the characteristics of the audience (self esteem, age, intelligence, gender, status) 8
  9. 9. According to the model, the sequential stages in the process of attitude change are: attention, comprehension, reactance, acceptance. Petty and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood model (1986). This model describes two alternative processing routes of persuasive messages: (i.) The central route to persuasion involves cognitive effort and active engagement, and is likely to result in permanent change in attitude and/ or behaviour. Messages are persuasive if they include detailed information / arguments about the specific features and if the message has some personal relevance to the viewer; (ii.) The peripheral route to persuasion involves minimal cognitive effort, and is likely to result only in temporary change of attitude and/or behaviour because the viewer is not really engaging with (doesn’t see any personal relevance of) the content of the message. Messages are persuasive via the peripheral processing route if they include images, imaginative contexts and emotional rather than fact-based information / arguments; also - peripheral processing will lead to short term attitude/behaviour change if the source of the message (the actor) is attractive. Other related concepts:  need for cognition -central processing (and long term attitude / behaviour change) will only take place if the viewer really understands / identifies with the message  the role of personal relevance / cognitive misers -the viewer will only expend the minimal amount of cognitive effort… so if the message has no personal relevance, they will only pay attention to peripheral features  THE APPLICATION OF HOVLAND-YALE AND ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODELS IN EXPLAINING THE PERSUASIVE EFFECTS OF MEDIA – PAST EXAM QUESTIONS June 2010 (b) A group of students has been asked to produce a short film to encourage more school leavers to apply for science degree courses at university instead of arts-based courses. Using your knowledge of psychological research into persuasion and attitude change, identify some of the factors which the film-makers might take into account. (4 marks) (c) Explain how factors such as those you identified in your answer to (b) might help to persuade young people to apply for particular courses. (10 marks) June 2011 (b) Outline the Hovland-Yale model of persuasion. (5 marks) January 2012 (a) Outline the Elaboration Likelihood model of persuasion. Explain how a mobile phone company might use knowledge of this model in a campaign to market a new phone. (4 marks + 6 marks) January 2013 The government wants to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers exceeding the 30 mph speed limit in built-up areas. An advertising company is asked to create a tv advertisement to persuade drivers to reduce their speed. Suggest some possible features of the television advertisement. Justify your suggestions with reference to the Hovland-Yale model. (10 marks) 9
  10. 10. June 2013 Describe one explanation for the persuasiveness of television advertising. (4 marks)  EXPLANATIONS FOR THE PERSUASIVENESS OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING The Hovland-Yale Model and The Elaboration Likelihood model can both be used as explanations for the persuasiveness of tv advertising; so can Social Learning Theory and Parasocial Relationships (see Social-psychological explanations of celebrity attraction below). EXPLANATIONS OF HOW TELEVISION HAS INFLUENCED PERSONAL AND SOCIAL ATTITUDES OVER TIME. o Cultivation Theory Cultivation Theory suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or ‘cultivating’ viewers’ conceptions of social reality. The combined effect of massive television exposure by viewers over time subtly shapes the perception of social reality for individuals and, ultimately, for our culture as a whole. Gerbner argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding it together. He has argued that television tends to cultivate middle-of-the- road political perspectives - he called this effect ‘mainstreaming’. o Uses and Gratifications Theory The Uses and Gratifications approach shifts the emphasis of communication research from answering the question ‘what does the media do to people?’ to ‘what do active audience members do with the media?’ Blumler and Katz’s uses and gratification theory suggests that media users play an active role in choosing and using the media. They take an active part in the communication process, are goal oriented in their media use and they seek out a media source that best fulfills their personal needs. This theory assumes that media users have alternate choices to satisfy their need. This model can therefore be used to evaluate the other models - all of which suggest that the viewer is a passive receiver of ‘influence’ from tv.  EXPLANATIONS FOR THE PERSUASIVENESS OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING - PAST EXAM QUESTIONS January 2011 Discuss one or more explanations for the effectiveness of television in persuasion. (5 marks + 8 marks) June 2012 A company is to launch a new perfume aimed at young career women and wants to devise a television advertising campaign to promote the perfume. Using your knowledge of the persuasive effects of television, what advice would you give to the company so that it could make the tv advertising campaign as effective as possible? Refer to psychological research to justify your advice. (10 marks) NB: this question could also fit in the section above. T H E P S Y C H O L O G Y O F ‘ C E L E B R I T Y ’  THE ATTRACTION OF ‘CELEBRITY’, INCLUDING SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS 10
  11. 11. SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF CELEBRITY ATTRACTION  SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY Some concepts from SLT can help to explain why people are attracted to celebrities. People aren’t really attracted to the celebrity per se - but rather the rewards the celebrity receives for their behaviour. The celebrity acts as a role-model (a particularly influential one if the individual admires or feels empathy with them); if the celebrity is reinforced for their behaviour, then the individual is vicariously reinforced, and if they have high-self efficacy, they will imitate the celebrity’s behaviour. This imitation appears to be ‘attraction to the celebrity’, but actually it is attraction to the trappings of the celebrity’s lifestyle/success.  PARASOCIAL INTERACTION A parasocial relationship is a ‘pseudo-relationship’ between an ordinary individual (the viewer) and a celebrity; the viewer believes they ‘know’ the celebrity - because they see them regularly, read about their lives, see photos of them and their families and friends, etc. Thus, in the same way that we may ‘like’ / admire / form an attraction to someone we really know, we may also ‘like’ / admire / form an attraction to a celebrity. Why do parasocial relationships form? Because they are more satisfying that real relationships: 1. they are less likely to end in disappointment (no expectation of the other party and therefore they won’t let us down); 2. no possibility of rejection (they don’t even know we exist, so can’t reject us); 3. no possibility of conflict (we can say what we like ‘to’ them and they won’t answer back).  THE ABSORPTION-ADDICTION MODEL (see explanation of intense fandom below) can explain the attraction to celebrity (probably just the ‘social entertainment’ and intense personal’ levels of celebrity attraction).  ATTACHMENT THEORY - insecure attachment style in childhood ay lead to relationship problems. difficulties later on, hence individuals may seek out parasocial relationships with celebrities to compensate for poor / no real relationships. (Also - see attachment theory as an explanation for intense fandom below.) Evaluation of social-psychological explanations of celebrity attraction  an analysis/evaluation of research studies which underpin the various explanations  discussion of some of the problems associated with measuring attraction - e.g., use of Likert Scales  discussion of the different levels of parasocial relationship which might require different explanations  contrast and comparison of other explanations e.g., evolutionary EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS OF CELEBRITY ATTRACTION  THE NEOPHILIA HYPOTHESIS Humans have an innate desire/preference for ‘novelty’ and creativity because they are honest indicators of fitness - hence desiring novelty/creativity is itself adaptive; so humans can’t help being attracted to celebrities because they are the ultimate example of novelty/creativity.  THE GOSSIP HYPOTHESIS Gossip has adaptive value - specifically it is a way to gather information about one’s social circle, especially those high status individuals which may not be in one’s close social circle but who are highly desirable and about whom it is useful to have information (to enhance one’s chances of ‘catching’ them). Celebrity attraction (specifically, having an interest in and talking about celebrities) is an inevitable by-product of this need to gather information about high status individuals. 11
  12. 12. Evaluation of evolutionary explanations of celebrity attraction o supported by the anecdotal evidence that women are more interested in celebrities than men (women have to be choosier because of pre-natal sex differences in parental investment) o deterministic… doesn’t explain why some people are NOT attracted to celebrities o cultural/learning theory makes the same predictions re gender differences  THE ATTRACTION OF ‘CELEBRITY’, INCLUDING SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS – PAST EXAM QUESTIONS January 2010 (b) Discuss how social psychology explains the attraction of celebrity. (4 marks + 6 marks) June 2014 As part of his research into intense fandom, a psychologist examined comments posted on a fan website for a famous ‘boyband’. He found that most fans discussed concerts, favourite songs and band souvenirs. However, a small number were more intensely involved with the band. These fans spent their weekends following the band around the country even when they were on tour, in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite celebrities. They visited the fan website several times a day to discuss the latest tweets posted by the band members on Twitter. How would psychological research into intense fandom explain the different kinds of relationship with celebrities in the above scenario? (10 marks) POSSIBLE EXAM QUESTIONS Evaluate one social psychological and one evolutionary explanation of the attraction of celebrity. (12 marks) Other than ethical issues, explain some of the difficulties that arise from researching celebrity attraction. (5 marks)  RESEARCH INTO INTENSE FANDOM, INCLUDING, CELEBRITY WORSHIP AND CELEBRITY STALKING ‘Celebrity worship’ and ‘celebrity stalking’ are considered to be 2 examples / types of intense fandom. EXPLANATIONS OF CELEBRITY WORSHIP  SITUATIONAL EXPLANATIONS Early research in this area suggested that anyone can become an intense fan, given the right situation. Examples such as ‘beatle-mania’ and the storming of the stage at a Who concert were used to support this idea - Schickel argued: “a rock band can turn anyone into a madman…”.  THEORIES SUGGESTING THAT INTENSE FANDOM HAS BENEFITS • Maltby (2001): a by-product of intense fandom is the social relationships it promotes - i.e., information sharing with other intense fans, common interests on which to base real relationships; also – fandom protects against the stresses of everyday life. • Benefits of relationships with older role-models - advice and guidance, etc. In the absence of a real adult role model, a parasocial relationship is better 12
  13. 13. than nothing - hence the ‘intense fan’ may write to try to contact the celebrity to ask for advice and guidance - which looks like celebrity worship.  DISPOSITIONAL EXPLANATIONS - all based on the idea that there is something about the individual’s personality or personal make-up that results in them being vulnerable to intense fandom - PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPENSATION THEORIES - based on the idea that there is something ‘psychologically deficient or ‘abnormal’ in the individual which causes them to engage in intense fandom as a way to compensate for this deficiency / ABNORMALITY. There are a number of different theories about what the psychological deficiency might be: o THE ABSORPTION-ADDICTION MODEL - the psychological deficiency is ‘lack of personal identity’ Houran and McCutcheon believe that an interest in celebrities may start with an individual’s ‘search for identity’ and a ‘sense of fulfilment’; people without a sense of identity don’t have a clear sense of ‘who they are’ and how they fit into the social networks around them - they have no sense of self-purpose. Such people are drawn to celebrities because in forming a parasocial relationship, they become ‘someone’ - i.e., the celebrity’s number one fan, or a ‘fan’. Worshippers then get so absorbed in the details of the lives of their idols that they start to feel emotional attachment, leading to obsession. The absorption-addiction model predicts that people tend to get interested in celebrities at times when they are looking for direction in life, such as during their teenage years. This ‘absorption’ (wanting to know all about the celebrity’s life, feeling as if they ‘know’ all about the celebrity) progresses to ‘addiction’ if they experience a crisis such as the loss of a loved one. McCutcheon argued there are 3 levels of celebrity worship: (i.) entertainment-social; (ii.) intense personal; (iii.) borderline pathological. NB: the borderline pathological level is NOT celebrity attraction - because by this stage the ‘fan’ is no longer just attracted to the celebrity, but obsessed with them - often leading to terrorism of the celebrity (e.g., stalking). o PERSONALITY THEORY - the psychological deficiency is ‘extreme personality traits’ Maltby et al (2003) found a correlation between scores on the 3 levels on the CAS scale and some of Eysenck’s personality traits: ‘entertainment social’ was linked with high scores on the extroversion personality scale (suggesting ‘entertainment social’ is quite ‘normal’); ‘intense personal’ was linked with high scores on the neuroticism personality scale; ‘borderline pathological’ was linked with high scores on the psychoticism personality scale ( - neurotocism and psychoticism are both considered to be ‘abnormal’ personality traits). o ATTACHMENT THEORY - the psychological deficiency is ‘insecure attachment style in childhood’ Giles & Maltby (2004) suggested that: INSECURE RESISTANT attachment style could lead to celebrity worship because of an individual’s worry over rejection - i.e., they prefer parasocial relationships because there is less risk of rejection; INSECURE AVOIDANT attachment style could lead to stalking / terrorism because of the resentment/anger/jealousy that the individual may feel to successful people Research studies/methods into intense fandom Maltby and McCutcheon are key researchers in this area. 3 types of celebrity worship identified in the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS): ‘entertainment- social’, ‘intense-personal’ and ‘borderline pathological’ - and how these differ in terms of parasocial interaction. Researchers have since used the CAS to test other hypotheses - for example, the possible link between celebrity worship and poor mental health:  Maltby et al (2001) tested the assumption that celebrity worship is accompanied by poorer psychological well-being. They administered the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS) and the general Health Questionnaire (GHQ) to an opportunity sample of 126 mean (mean age 26.97 years) and 181 women (mean age 27.67) from workplaces and community groups in South Yorkshire. Scores on the entertainment-social subscale of the CAS correlated positively and significantly with social dysfunction, anxiety and depression scores on the GHQ. Scores on the intense-personal 13
  14. 14. subscales correlated positively and significantly with anxiety and depression scores. Maltby et al concluded that the significant relationship between celebrity worship and poorer psychological wellbeing is the result of (failed) attempts to escape, cope or enhance the individual’s daily life. This conclusion they claim, holds even for the initial stages of celebrity worship that do not appear pathological.  A link was found between the link between celebrity worship and poor body image (Maltby et al ,2005)  McCutcheon et al (2006) studied 299 adult under-graduates and found that: o those Ps who reported an insecure attachment style as children were more likely to condone stalking and obsessive behaviors directed toward celebrities than adults who reported a secure attachment style; o CAS scores of those Ps with a greater attraction to celebrities for the "wrong" reasons (intense personal on the CAS) were positively correlated to scores condoning stalking and obsessive behaviours directed toward celebrities. Evaluative issues with research studies/methods into intense fandom  reliability and validity of scales such as the CAS (difficulty in measuring/operationalising stalking e.g., agreeing on a definition)  demand characteristics and social desirability bias with the CAS and other ‘disposition’ scales  problems with drawing causal conclusions from Correlational studies  strengths and weaknesses of some of the theories/explanations which underpin some of the findings - e.g., the prestige hypothesis, absorption- addiction model, attachment theory of stalking, rational goal pursuit theory of stalking etc  possible issues/debates/approaches could include gender, cultural issues and ethical issues EXPLANATIONS OF CELEBRITY STALKING - STALKING is defined as intrusive and obsessional behaviour directed towards an individual, which is unwanted and creates fear. (It is clearly distinguished from attraction to celebrity in the specification.)  ATTACHMENT THEORY applied to stalking - early attachments acts as a foundation for later relationships (see attachment theory as an explanation of celebrity worship above). Whereas INSECURE RESISTANT attachment in childhood may lead to a parasocial relationship / celebrity worship because there is less chance of rejection (which a resistant person may fear and therefore be motivated to avoid), INSECURE AVOIDANT attachment in childhood may lead to anger and resentment of people who are successful (particularly in their relationships), because the avoidant person has grown up understanding that people cannot be relied upon and therefore ‘being alone’ is the norm - jealousy and anger may result when the individual realises that actually this isn’t the norm and hence they become aggressive and terrorise the celebrity as a form of punishment. Evaluation  - a link was found between insecure attachments and celebrity-following (McCutcheon et al, 2006) - see above.  RELATIONAL GOAL PURSUIT THEORY - obsession pursuit which is rejected by celebrity makes the goal more desirable and fuels efforts to gain access (McIntosh 1995).  EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS - attention to high profile/prestigious members of the same species confers survival advantage if we learn through imitation, modelling requires access, hence stalking. Studies of celebrity stalking  Mullen et al (1999) set out to investigate the behaviour of stalkers. They used a sample of 145 stalkers who had been referred to a forensic 14
  15. 15. psychiatry centre in the US for treatment. Most of these stalkers were men (79%) and many were unemployed (39%); over half had never had an intimate relationship. The most common victims were ex-partners (30%); work contacts and strangers were also victims. From this sample, 5 types of stalkers were identified: rejected; intimacy seeking; incompetent; resentful; predatory. Delusional disorders were common, especially among intimacy- seeking stalkers, and those with personality disorders were most commonly rejected stalkers. The duration of stalking varied from 45 weeks to 20 years (wit a mean average length of time of 12 months); it was longest for rejected and intimacy-seeking stalkers. 63% of the stalkers had made threats to their victims, and 36% had committed an assault on them. Resentful stalkers were more likely to make threats and commit property damage, whereas rejected and predatory stalkers committed more physical assaults on their victims. The researchers concluded that stalkers have a range of motivations, from reasserting power over a partner who rejected them to the quest for a loving relationship. Most stalkers are lonely and socially incompetent, but all have the capacity to frighten and distress their victims.  Meloy (1992) - stalkers have been found to show pre-occupied attachments constant approval seeking, low self-esteem  Kienlen et al (1997) - childhood attachment disruption in 25 stalkers in Missouri  Lewis et al (2001) - stalkers show traits characteristic of insecure attachments  McCutcheon et al (2006) - links between childhood attachment, condoning stalking and celebrity worship in 299 under-graduates Methodological problems in studies of celebrity stalking o use of retrospective interviews o inability to determine cause and effect o problems with generalising from small samples and case studies o ethical issues  RESEARCH INTO INTENSE FANDOM, INCLUDING, CELEBRITY WORSHIP AND CELEBRITY STALKING – PAST EXAM QUESTIONS January 2011 (b) In a study, researchers investigated celebrity worship in young people. They sent two questionnaires to several hundred university students. One questionnaire measured attitudes to celebrity and the other questionnaire measured self-esteem. The researchers analysed the completed questionnaires and found a significant correlation between low self-esteem and high levels of celebrity worship. Explain one methodological and one ethical issue that might have arisen in this study. (2 marks + 2 marks) Explain how the reliability of the questionnaires could have been assessed. (4 marks) June 2011 (c) Outline and evaluate findings of research into intense fandom. (4 marks + 6 marks) January 2012 (c) Outline and evaluate research into celebrity stalking. (4 marks + 6 marks) 15
  16. 16. Summer 2012 Outline one or more evolutionary explanations of the attraction of ‘celebrity’. (4 marks) January 2013 Outline findings of research into celebrity worship. (4 marks) POSSIBLE EXAM QUESTIONS Evaluate one or more studies investigating celebrity worship. (8 marks) Explain ethical issues that may arise in research into celebrity worship and explain how these could be addressed. (8 marks) 16

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