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Cultivation Theory

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Linda Riedemann

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of Cultivation Theory

Xi Jiang
Linda Riedemann
Caraline Stephens Cultivation research is based on the effects tradition of mass media research. Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 Along with Knowledge Gap, Diffusion of Innovations, and Socialization Theories Researchers wanted to study how watching television might affect the way that viewers perceive the everyday real world. They created the Cultural Indicators research project, and started conducting annual message system analyses of prime-time broadcast programming in 1967. The goal was to track the most stable, pervasive, and recurrent images in network television content, in terms of the portrayal of violence, gender roles, race and ethnicity, occupations, and many other topics and aspects of life, over long periods of time. Persistent long term exposure to television content has small but measurable effects on the perceptual worlds of audience members. “The central hypothesis of the research was that viewing television gradually leads to the adoption of beliefs about the nature of the social world which conform to the stereotyped, distorted and very selective view of reality as portrayed in a systematic way in television fiction and news.” (McQuail, 1983) According to Gerbner, "television is a medium of the socialization of most people into standardized roles and behaviors. Its function is in a word, enculturation." Gerbner’s goal was to find the “cultural differential”

In percentage terms, how often are people who watch television (heavy and light viewership) influenced to have the same perceptions as those portrayed in the media? Assumption 1: Television is essentially and fundamentally different from other forms of mass media. Unlike PRINT- Does not require literacy

Unlike MOVIES- television is “free” and is always running

Unlike RADIO-show and tell, not just tell

Unlike THEATRE/CONCERTS/MOVIES/CHURCHES- does not require mobility Assumption 2: Television shapes the way our society thinks and relates. According to Gerbner, even the most “sophisticated” people find important aspects of their knowledge about the real world “derived wholly or in part from fictional representation.”
All different classes, groups, and ages share so much of the same culture and same perspective on certain realities.
“Representation in the world of television gives an idea, a cause, a group a sense of public identity, importance and relevance.” Assumption 3: Television’s effects are limited. According to Gerbner, television viewers are exposed to heavy violence, and this constant construction of reality cultivates the view that the real world is very much a violent place.
This effect happens over a long period of exposure, and varies depending on whether the person is a heavy watcher (more than 4 hours a day)or a light watcher( less than 2 hours a day). He argued that media begins to influence a person the moment that they are born. A pre-television stage does not exist in a person’s life. Using surveys, he targeted four attitudes: (1) Chances of involvement with violence Light viewers:

Predicted their weekly odds of being involved in violence were 1 in 100 Heavy viewers:
Predicted 1 in 10 (2) Fear of walking alone at night Overall women were more afraid than men Heavy viewers overestimated criminal activity, believing it to be 10 times worse than what was real (3) Perceived activity of police Heavy viewers:

Believed that 5% of society was involved with some kind of law enforcement. Light viewers:

Estimated it to only 1%. (4) General mistrust of people Light viewers:

Viewed people's behaviors and motives in a more positive light Heavy viewers:

Viewed people’s motives more negatively Mean World Syndrome “Mainstream” Defined •The constant cultivation of a socially constructed “reality”
•Gives “coherent picture of what exists, what is important, what is related to what, and what is right.”
•Legitimizes “action along socially functional and conventionally acceptable lines.”
•Unlike radio, television reaches a broader audience which it homogenized so that heavy viewers had similar views which they self-identified as “mainstream”. “Resonance” Defined •The process by which heavy viewing of television affects viewers who have first-hand experience with violence. Gerbner posited that the exposure to violence on television causes these viewers to relive their negative experiences over and over again.
•The combination of everyday reality and television providing a "double dose" that resonates with the individual, which in turn strengthens cultivation. Other Research Applications While a good deal of cultivation theory has been applied to violence (and arguably science) in TV shows; other areas leave room for additional exploration Cultivation theory applied to social and gender roles depicted on television Cultivation theory applied to children's television viewing Cultivation theory applied beyond television Cultivation theory applied to nightly news Cultivation theory applied to gaming Race and cultivation theory Cultivation theory related to gender roles and sexuality Cultivation theory and sexuality Cultivation theory and children TV demographics suggest a representation of true world demographics to viewers
(Mastro & Behm-Morawitz, 2005) People learn about the relative status and characteristics of minorities from television
(Mastro & Behm-Morawitz, 2005) Direct TV - about 80 minutes per day from birth until age 6

Background TV - Babies under 2 years old were exposed to 5.5 hours per day, with exposure declining as children aged with kids between 6 and 8 years old experiencing a little less than 3 hours. Children are exposed to a startling amount of television media both direct and indirect The cultivation of social perceptions from television is an area of research that is very ripe and open for more research especially as social perceptions on television and in real life evolve (HealthDay News, 2012) Twiggy 60S Jane Fonda 70s Farrah Fawcett
"Charlie's Angels" Madonna 80s Pam Anderson
90s Sexy Icons in 20C Halle Berry Angelina Jolie Scarlett Johansson Fun Time! Ready to look at some sexy icons from the last 60 years? Marilyn Monroe
50S Cultivation theory can also be applied to general ideas that may exist about society Current Development on Cultivation Theory Television exposure “cultivates” beliefs, attitudes, and ideals about the real world that match the media-depicted world (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1994) Current Development on Cultivation Theory continued...
(Morgan & Shanahan, 2010) 1. Genre-specific cultivation 2. Form-of-media-specific cultivation Exposure to specific genre Past research has examined how soap operas influence perceptions of interpersonal relationships (Williams, 2006) Woo and Dominick, 2001 Exposure to talk shows and beliefs about marriage. Finding: talk-show exposures were better predictors of some dependent variables than overall TV exposures Criticisms of Cultivation Theory Not falsifiable : critics claim that since that since cultivation theory can explain presence or absence of cultivation effects that it is impossible to disprove Imprecise measures : critics argue that the measures of content and exposure are not precise. Content varies from program to program and therefore generalizations can not be made. Additionally, exposure has not always been consistently measured in regard to cultivation theory. Ambiguity : cultivation theory deals with differences between the "real world" and the "media world" however these terms are not clearly operationalized in much of the research Not accounting for viewer differences : viewer differences are often ignored or not considered in early cultivation research, again bringing into question the generalizability of results Spurious causation : correlation does not always mean causation. Exposure does not necessarily cause attitude changes Woo and Dominik (2001) (Williams, 2006) Often depict families and individuals in crisis and in need of collective support Heavier viewers of such show would be more supportive of activist and interventionist government policies in support of families. Exposure to Dating Show (Ferris, Smith, Greenberg, and Smith, 2007) •Young male heavy viewers were more likely to hold stereotypical perception about dating. •Men are sex-driven, dating is a game, women are sex objects (Ward, 2002) Exposure to "Makeover" Show (Kubic & Chory, 2007) •Negatively related to self-esteem and positively related to perfectionism and body dissatisfaction. Genre-specific studies conclusion: Have not yet outlined a clear collective pattern beyond individual selection; Cultivation theory applied to advertising Couple the amount of television children are exposed to with existing cultivation theory research Problems of research dealing with children:
IRB issues
Children have trouble conceptualizing and explaining the real world versus the media world Research found a cultivation effect from playing the online game World of Warcraft, however this study only examined this one game Additional research is needed to examine cultivation effects of other games Williams, 2006 Reinforcement of minority stereotypes have been found in advertising More research is needed to examine the cultivation effects of advertising (Lee & Joo, 2005) Cultivation effects have been examined in regard to health and crime news The easy accessibility of high paying and white collar jobs in the media is one social area that could be examined by cultivation theory As positive depictions of same sex couples on television increases, cultivation effects of this idea of the normal family needs to be researched Criticism of Genre-specific Cultivation Research "Cultivation" is a systematic process of overall viewing experience. People do not watch isolated genres only, so that any impact of individual program types should be considered in the context of the overall viewing experience. Cultivation Effect of Other Forms of Media Dmitri Williams, 2006 •One month long experiment
•213 first time players [AC2, Dungeon and Fighter]
•Online game also has cultivation effect International Cultivation Analysis 1. Weak associations between amount of viewing and perception of violence, victimization and mistrust in England (Wober, 1978) and Netherlands (Bouwan, 1984). 2. Viewing American programs:
Israel students viewed US as an idealized nation of standard of living (Weimann, 1984)
Australian who were exposed to US crime programs thought Australia was dangerous and mean (Pingree & Hawkins, 1981). Why such Difference? Every country’s television system reflects the historical, political, social, economic, and cultural contexts within which it has developed (Gerbner, 1958; 1969). Conclusion: cultivation patterns are not identical across cultures. Wake-up Question: 1. Do you think those ladies are attractive? 2. Where do you get the idea that "she is attractive"? Cognitive Explorations Explain how cultivation occurs (1990s) "...it is not that television changes attitudes, but that it makes them stronger (Shrum, 1995, p. 191) Some findings: heuristic model heavy TV viewers heuristic reception and processing more likely rely on TV for perception about the real world. (Shrum et al., 1995) frequency recency vividness Debate: central or heuristic? Online game But those studies indicated that viewers with specific preferences will seek out programs that nourish and sustain the worldviews that they find plausible (Morgan & Shanahan, 2010). 3. International cultivation 4. Cognitive exploration Dmitri Williams (2006) Longitudinal, controlled experiment -- 1 month
Playing online game & perceptions of real-world dangers Result:
Cultivation effect is predicted by central processing rather than heuristic-based processing. Development and Applications of Cultivation Theory Cultivation theory is among the top 3 most cited mass communication theories (Morgan & Shanahan, 2010). More than 500 papers on major mass communication journals have cited it directly by 2010 (Morgan & Shanahan, 2010). Virtual Cultivation Infidelity, running away from home, and premarital sex Neural network simulations support heuristic processing model of
cultivation effects Samuel D. Bradley, 2011 TV viewers
Used computer to mimic connectionist model of memory and retrieval patterns, the result supported Shrum's heuristic model.
Systematic processing is weakly related to cultivation These are some areas where either cultivation theory has not been applied yet or where it has and there is still more room for research This real life example suggested that: Media also cultivates our aesthetics - not just perception of real-world danger The change of sexy icons in media reflects the change of our aethetics. Media other than TV also cultivates our aethetics. However, such fragment of overall viewing experience and observed relationships reflect selective exposure than cultivation Pop
Quiz! Based on what you've seen on TV, what is the one thing that all cops love to eat?
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