Media Psychology

Notes for Media Psychology from AQA A A2 Level.

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Media Psychology
Media Influences on Prosocial Behaviour
Exposure to prosocial behaviour ­ content analysis found two thirds of children's programmes contained at
least on violent act. Greenburg looked at US children's programmes and found as many prosocial acts as
antisocial ones.
Acquisition of prosocial behaviours and norms ­ Bandura's social learning theory says we learn through
observation when to imitate behaviours and the consequences. Prosocial acts are likely to represent social
norms so reinforce our social norms so we are more likely to be rewarded for imitating prosocial acts than
antisocial acts.
Developmental factors ­ Eisenburg said that prosocial skills like moral reasoning and empathy, develop
throughout childhood into adolescence, so younger children may be less affected by prosocial portrayal than
older children.
Parental mediation ­ Austin said that effective parental mediation involves discussing any ambiguous or
disturbing material and following up with concepts shown in the programme. This enhances the learning affect,
and help children understand more complex moral messages.
Four main behavioural effects of prosocial television:
1. Altruism (sharing, helping) ­ studies usually involve explicit modelling of specific behaviours,
Poulos found that children who watch Lassie where a child rescues a dog were more likely to help
distressed puppies than those who watched a neutral programme
2. Self-control (resistance to temptation, task persistence) ­ when children were exposed to TV
models showing self control, they then showed higher levels of self-control. Friedrich and Stein found
that 4 year olds who watched Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood over four weeks showed more task
persistence and obedience to rules than those who watched aggressive cartoons like Batman or neutral
3. Positive interaction ­ Frederick and Stein observed children playing counting the number of
aggressive acts, friendly behaviours, expressions of affection etc. Those who had watched a prosocial
programme behaved more positively to each other than those who had seen a neutral programme
4. Anti-stereotyping ­ Johnston and Ettema conducted large scale study with thousands of 9-12 year
old children. They watched Freestyle once a week for 13 weeks, which aimed to reduce gender
stereotypes, children became less stereotyped and prejudice.
Prosocial effects of other media have also been found, like children's stories. Children read their
favourite stores over and over again which reinforces the messages.
Exposure to prosocial behaviour ­ Woodard found that US programmes for pre-school children
had high levels of prosocial content; 77% of programmes had at least one prosocial lesson. However,
only 4 of the top 20 most watched TV programmes for under 17s had any prosocial lessons
Acquisition of prosocial behaviours and norms ­ children are most affected when shown the
exact steps for positive behaviour, may be because they can remember concrete acts better than
abstract ones. Learning prosocial norms may be less common unless followed up by discussion, Ettema
found largest effects when programme was viewed in the class room and accompanied by teacher-led

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Media Psychology
discussion.…read more

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Media Psychology
children watches the more acceptable aggressive behaviour becomes to that child. They will feel less anxiety
about violence so are desensitised and may be more likely to engage in violence.
Lowered physiological arousal ­ there are stronger desensitisation effects for males than females.
Huesmann and Moise found that boys who are heavy television watchers show lower-than-average
physiological arousal in response to new scenes of violence.…read more

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Media Psychology
and girls), while two showed increases (boys only). Two significant changes in antisocial behaviour
showed a decrease.
Gender bias ­ effects primarily focus on acts of male-on-male physical violence, frequently viewed in
artificial laboratory setting. Effects research uses unrepresentative samples (male students) and then
makes generalisations about all viewers.…read more

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Media Psychology
killing spree in their high school. This, and other crimes, has led to families of victims blaming
video games.
Experimental studies ­ strength is that causal relationships between exposure to game play and
subsequent aggressive behaviour can be determined, but only short term effects. Weakness is that real
life aggression cannot be measured
Correlational studies ­ can use real world measures of aggression, and can be used to look at long
term effects.…read more

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Media Psychology
extremely different. The use of attractive sources can be effective in attitude change especially when used in
the peripheral route.
Message factors ­ Older children understand the persuasive intent of advertisements, so are less influenced by
them. Low-fear and high-fear messages do not appear as effective as moderate-fear messages. McGuire said
that low levels of fear do little to motivate the audience but high levels can causes anxiety which interferes with
the ability to process the message.…read more

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Media Psychology
more likely to focus on quality of arguments than their context. Attitudes changed this way are long
lasting and less susceptible to attempts to change them
The peripheral route to persuasion ­ Fiske and Taylor said that most people are cognitive misers so
rely on simple and time-efficient strategies when evaluating information and making decisions. These
individuals are more likely to be influenced by contextual cues. Attitudes are easily changed.…read more

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Media Psychology
law. They found significantly fewer gift requests among Swedish children; lack of advertising was probably a
direct cause of this.
Product endorsement ­ Celebrity endorsements may not be as effective as first thought. Martin
found that student participants were more convinced by a television endorsement from a fictional
student when buying a digital camera than by one from a celebrity. This suggests that young people
want to make sure their product is fashionable among similar people, rather than approved by
celebrities.…read more

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Media Psychology
32 weeks this knowledge had dropped to 73% in those who had seen the episode, and risen to 50% in those
who hadn't. Philo and Henderson investigated the effects of a Casualty episode that highlighted the issue of
unnecessary hospital attendance. A large proportion of people who had seen the episode who previously
attended A&E would not attend for the same complaint.…read more

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Media Psychology
Parasocial relationships ­ although it is commonly believed that these relationships are
dysfunctional, formed on the basis of loneliness, Shiappa's meta-analysis found that this wasn't the case.
People who are more socially active and socially motivated are more likely to engage in parasocial
Benefits ­ they provide a model of social behaviour, such intimacy and generosity, and an opportunity
to learn cultural values.…read more


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