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Psychology of Addictive Behaviour
Media and Addictive Behaviour Sulken (2007) argues that although the notion of addiction
is increasingly used in everyday language, there is no universal understanding of what it
Film Representations of Addiction
o Sulken (2007) analysed 61 scenes from films that represented addictions to
alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling and sex. The films presented scenes of drug
competence and enjoyment of the effects. The enjoyment was frequently
contrasted with the dullness of ordinary life. The competent use of drugs was
also represented as a way of alleviating a particular problem.
o Films Waylen et al (2011) examined 360 of the top US box office films
released between 2001 and 2005, including those that depicted smoking.
They found that there was a significant relationship between adolescent
smoking and the number of films they had seen depicting smoking. This
suggests the media representations of smoking influence teenagers to take
up the habit.
1. Research Support Sargent and Hanewinkel (2009) surveyed adolescents and
re-surveyed a year later to test whether their exposure to smoking in movies
influenced their initiation into smoking. Of individuals who had not smoked when
they were surveyed in the first year, exposure to movies with smoking over the year
between the two surveys was a strong predictor of whether they had begun to
smoke (this is the exposure effect).
2. The Importance of Films Byrne (1997) argues that films are important as they can
educate the public about addiction by creating stereotypes (like in Trainspotting).
3. Creativity An analysis by Belli (2009) offers support for the claim that addiction and
media are linked in an alternative way. Brian Wilson (the creator of Beach Boys) had
an addiction to drugs throughout the 1960s-1970s which was widely documented.
He enjoyed the perceptual experiences offered by cannabis, and cites its creative
influence in his decision to use bigger and denser sounds in music production. The
other drug he also consumed was LSD. He cited this as being greatly influential in the
Beach Boys most famous album (Pet Sounds). His use of cocaine to which he became
addicted to rapidly, no longer contribute to the creative process, but was used as a
form of self-medication as he struggled with the pressures of writing and touring.
Wilsons addiction to drugs offers an insight into how being part of a competitive
media drives some people to experiment with drugs as a creative influence, but then
become victims of the drugs' addictive power.
4. An Alternative Perspective Boyd (2008) argues that films frequently do represent
the negative consequence of alcohol and drug dependence. For example, illegal drug
use and addiction are depicted by physical deterioration, violence and crime and
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Media Changing Addictive Behaviour
o Television support for problem drinking Bennet et al (1991) evaluated the
TV series "Psst.. The Really Useful Guide to Alcohol". Viewers who watched
the series were compared with those who didn't watch the series. Although
the results showed an improvement in alcohol-related knowledge, they did
not show any change in attitude or in actual alcohol consumption.…read more
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Anti-Drug advertising contains an implicit message that drug use is common
Johnston et al (2002) found that youths who saw the campaign advertisements took
from them the message that their peers were using marijuana and were then more
likely to imitate marijuana use.…read more