Cultivation Theory

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George Curry

Introduction to Communications

Media Paper

Cultivation theory was created by George Gerbner, founder of the cultural environment movement and dean of communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Cultivation theory deals with the content of television and how it affects and shapes society for television viewers. The theory suggests that the violence embedded in television causes regular viewers to form exaggerated beliefs of society as a meaner and scary world. This is known as mean world syndrome. Although less than one percent of the population are victims of violent crimes in any one year period, heavy exposure to violent crimes through television can lead to the belief that no one can be trusted in what appears to be a violent world. Television sets are slowly replacing schools and churches as the main storyteller for families. People are watching television religiously instead of going to church. It is more common to stay at home on Sundays and watch football or the newest reality show out. It’s the

twenty-four seven real life drama that television offers that attracts people to become a regular TV viewer. In their devotion to watching television on a regular basis they are exposed to the violence that is embedded in most shows on the air.

Gerbner provides his three-prong plug, which is his framework for understanding why more television consumption leads to a misled perception of a risky world filled with crime. The first prong for the plug represents the concern for why media chooses the messages they deliver. Violence is a stable message delivered by the media, because it is cheap and easy to sell globally. This is mainly because violence is a universal language that is understood by everyone.

The second prong represents the concern for figuring out the exact messages that television delivers. In order to do so Gerbner uses what he calls, Message System Analysis, which ultimately supplies a numerical value for what...
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