Cultivation Theory Effects

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The cultivation theory states that the more a person is exposed to a message or idea, the more likely they are to accept that message or idea as real. George Gerbner focused his attention on the effects of violent television on viewers, but the theory can also be applied to media messages, movies and even music because these are all things that people are exposed to daily and that carry their own messages that could affect the way people see the world. Media messages and TV shows are big carriers of the cultivation effect and have a very large audience. Television dramas have a significant influence on the attitudes, beliefs and judgments of viewers concerning the social world. People who watch a lot of these drama shows (like soap operas) are more prone to think that the real world also functions by the rules of the program. They are more likely to define someone as a good guy or villain and interpret their actions based on those labels. People who watch police or justice-based shows are also more likely to have a reinforced faith in law and order, the status quo, and social justice. Another effect of these shows is that people tend to think that criminals or the bad guys always get their just rewards and are more hesitant to accept that the system is flawed and that mistakes often occur when seeking justice. Action movies have similar effects on their audience and fans of this genre are also more likely to think that things in the real world work in a way that reflects what they see in the movies. In studies of the cultivation effects theory, television is seen as dominating our symbolic environment. It presents television not as a window or reflection of the world, but as the world itself. The TV and movie world is actually a lot more violent than reality, dominated by males, and tends to over-represent the professions of those involved in law enforcement. All of these are misconceptions that the audience does not immediately recognize as false, or...
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