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Is any behaviour intended to
help or benefit another
person, group or society.
Media influences on Pro-social
and Anti-social Behaviour.
Is any behaviour that lacks
consideration for others and
may cause damage to
society.…read more

Slide 2

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· Cognitive priming ­ after watching pro-social acts, the viewer
might be more likely to behave in helpful ways.
· Arousal ­ Watching people help others might result in heightened
arousal towards pro-social behaviour (an example may be Comic
· Sponsor effects ­ seeing others perform pro-social acts may
suggest that this behaviour is desirable. An example be may be
watching a celebrity run the London Marathon.
· Social Learning Theory (SLT) ­ Pro-social behaviour may be learnt
through observational learning. Bandura is currently researching
whether positive modelling can result in co-operation, empathy,
sharing and so forth.…read more

Slide 3

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"Good News Studies" (Holloway et al, 1977)
· Produced support for the cognitive priming effect of the
impact of good news.
· They invited participants into the lab for an experiment and
while they sat in the waiting room, played them a news
programme over the radio.
· They were then asked to participate in a study involving
bargaining with a fellow participant (actually a
· Those who had heard the pro-social news story were more
likely to be cooperative in their bargaining, particularly if
the news story involved an account of someone who had
intentionally given help.…read more

Slide 4

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"Good News Study" follow up (Blackman & Hornstein, 1977)
· This replicated the Holloway study but also asked the
participants to rate their beliefs about human nature at the
end of the study.
· Participants who had listened to the pro-social news report
anticipated other people would be more cooperative, and
generally reported a higher proportion of decent and
honest people in the world.
· Although these findings only report short term effects in
male participants, they do illustrate how participants
responded to other pro-social acts not mentioned in the
news report.…read more

Slide 5

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"Lost your marbles game" (Silverman & Sprafkin, 1980)
· This involved groups of 3, 5 and 7 years olds watching clips of
Sesame Street.
· The experimental clips were designed to teach cooperation,
compared to control clips that weren't.
· In pairs, children played a game of marbles after watching the
programme clips.
· In order to win, the children had to cooperate with one another
by taking turns.
· There were no differences in the levels of cooperation shown by
those in the control or experimental groups.
· It was suggested that these findings may be have been the result
of the very brief presentation of the programme clips and/or due
to the artificial nature of the cooperation.…read more

Slide 6

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· Experimental support ­ Hearold (1980) conducted a review of previous pro-social research studies
(a meta-analysis) and concluded that,
"Although fewer studies exist on pro-social effects, the effect size is so much larger, holds up
better under more stringent experimental conditions and is consistently higher for both boys and
girls, that the potential for pro-social overrides the small but persistent negative effects of
antisocial programs" (Hearold, 1986).
· Cumberbatch (1989) argues that anti-social acts are more obvious and easier to count, whereas
pro-social acts are more subtle and therefore this has led to the under-counting of pro-social acts.
· Cumberbatch (1998) counted 20 altruistic acts per hour over a 3-year period on US TV (1975-
1978) compared to the average 6-7 anti-social acts per hour. Much of the research into pro-social
effects examines the positive effects of TV programmes that were explicitly made for `pro-social'
· Many of the studies have the advantage of strict experimental control and allow the presentation
of the pro-social behaviour clearly and unambiguously.
· However, many of the studies use brief clips from programmes some of which are specifically
produced for use in the lab.
· In addition, measures of pro-social behaviour are conducted in an artificial situation. Generalising
such findings may be difficult.
· Much media research fails to recognise the complexity of characters such as Superman and
Batman. Surely a TV hero who kills a villain who was about to destroy the world should be defined
as someone who has performed a pro-social act rather than someone who is anti-social?…read more

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