Distorting Perceptions of Our Lives

by Little Guy @, Sunday, September 10, 2023, 14:52 (14 days ago) @ Geronimo


‘I once lived in a small, safe rural community in northern British Columbia. When cable television came in and people started watching stations like CNN and Fox, they started to become more fearful.’

Pretty vague statement of fact, where’s your proof?


My comment was anecdotal, personal experience, but in case you are sincere in seeking confirmation,

By the 1970s, George Gerbner began studying what he termed the "mean-world" syndrome. Through his "cultivation" paradigm, Gerbner argued that because television programming contains much more violence than actually exists in the real world, people who watch a large amount of television come to view the world as a mean and dangerous place. The research of Gerbner and his associates (1994) has shown, for example, that heavy television viewers exceed light viewers in their estimates of the chances of being involved in violence and that they are also more prone to believe that others cannot be trusted.

Gerbner's research has focused primarily on viewers' beliefs about the world rather than on viewers' emotions. However, research in the late 1990s revealed that heavy television viewing is associated with fears, nightmares, and even symptoms of psychological trauma. A 1998 survey by Mark Singer and his associates of two thousand elementary and middle school children in Ohio showed that as the number of hours of television viewing per day increased, so did the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. Similarly, a 1999 survey by Judith Owens and her collaborators of the parents of almost five hundred elementary school children in Rhode Island revealed that heavy television viewing (especially television viewing at bedtime) was significantly related to sleep disturbances. In the Owens study, almost 10 percent of the parents reported that their child experienced television-induced nightmares as frequently as once a week.

A 1991 experiment by Cantor and Becky Omdahl explored the effect of witnessing scary media events on the subsequent behavioral choices of children in kindergarten through fifth grade. In this experiment, exposure to dramatized depictions of a deadly house fire or a drowning increased children's self-reports of worry about similar events in their own lives. More important, these fictional depictions affected the children's preferences for normal, everyday activities that were related to the tragedies they had just witnessed: Children who had seen a movie depicting a drowning expressed less willingness to go canoeing than other children; and those who had seen the program about a house fire were less eager to build a fire in a fireplace.


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