Media Influence on ProSocial Behaviour and Research problems

AQA A2 unit 4 psych paper

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Media influence on prosocial behaviour
TV programmes such as `The Tweenies', `Sesame Street' and `Noddy' have been designed to help children to
develop prosocial skills. It tries to develop:
Helping behaviour
A positive attitude towards diversity
A positive attitude towards learning
Strong effects of prosocial programmes have been found:
With children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds
If there is repeated and sustained exposure
When adults discuss prosocial viewing with children
Baran (1979) ­ children who watched an episode of `The Waltons' were more cooperative in game playing afterwards.
Moriaty and McCabe (1977) ­ children exposed to prosocial, antisocial and neutral videos of athletes playing the
same sport that the kids sometimes played, found they were influenced by the prosocial models, but not by the
antisocial ones.
this might suggest that kids are fundamentally good and want positive consequences to come from their
actions (behaviourism)
Midlarsky (1973) showed that if children watch a model perform an act of helping, and see the model rewarded, they
are more likely to imitate the behaviour.
Forge and Phemister (1987) ­ studied kids of nursery school age when exposed to prosocial programs, they are
more likely to behave in altruistic ways.
Friedrich and Stein (1973) American preschool kids shown prosocial programs. Behaved in a more helpful and
cooperative manner than kids who watched programs with a neutral or aggressive content. Could describe a range of
prosocial behaviours and give instances of their use.
Supports Observational learning:
Sprafkin et al (1975) showed 6 year olds episodes of `Lassie' in which a boy risked his life to help the dog. Another
episode had no helping behaviour scene. After the program, kids were given the chance to help puppies, but they
had to stop playing a game which might have won them a prize. Rescue episode: spent over 90 seconds helping the
puppies, less than 50 seconds for kids who watched other programs.
Problems with Media Research
Measuring exposure
controlled viewing: ethics (PfH), researcher bias, demand characteristics
electronic monitoring: ethics (privacy invasion), lack of control, demand characteristics
concurrent selfreport(e.g. diary): social desirability bias, forgetfulness ­ Pp not accurate.
Retrospective self report: forgetfulness ­ Pp can't always remember what s/he watched
Other reports (e.g. parents): social desirability bias, inaccuracy.
Measuring aggression
Labbased measures: ethics (informed consent, PfH), low mundane realism/ external validity, demand
Observer ratings: ethics (informed consent), no control (C&E)
Selfratings of aggression: social desirability bias, subjective: opinions of levels of aggression are different
Criminal convictions: varies on crimes. Speeding/ murder have different aggression levels.
Research Methods and Designs
Lab exp: highly controlled (C&E), IV + DV controlled artificial, low external validity
Field exp: less artificial because of natural environment less controlled than lab
Natural exp: high mundane realism/ external validity IV isn't controlled, makes C&E harder.
Correlational design: clear presentation of results, shows a link between 2 factors, can use this to study
variables unethical to manipulate C&E can't be established.


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