Positive effects of media: media influences on prosocial behaviour

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
Positive effects of media: media influences on pro-social behaviour
Social learning theory
A child observes a role model and develops a mental representation that the role
model's behaviour is good. The child sees the role model getting vicarious
reinforcement through a reward such as laughter. The child models this behaviour
them self gaining direct experience and are encouraged to repeat this due to
experiencing positive reinforcement. They develop self efficacy which is when
they become good at the behaviour making it more likely it will be repeated.
Poulos showed young children an episode of Lassie where a boy helps a dog and
found that they were more likely to help puppies in distress than children who
watched a neutral TV program. This shows that children are more likely to help
when they see prosocial behaviour.
Behaviour was explicitly modelled suggesting prosocial behaviour needs to
be obvious and that they are harder to imitate than antisocial behaviour.
Positive behaviour was only short term so prosocial effects may not be
long term
Johnson and Ettema studied several thousand 9-12 year olds who watched the TV
program Freestyle (a program designed to reduce sex role stereotypes) once a
week for 13 weeks. They found that children became less stereotyped in their
attitudes and beliefs. However this was increased further when the program was
watched and followed with a classroom discussion and along with a teacher led
activity designed to expand on the issues shown in the program which suggests that
other factors influence learning prosocial behaviours.
Cognitive priming
When a stimulus in the environment activates a script in our memory which makes
behaviours linked to the script more likely to occur. Therefore if a child sees lots
of prosocial TV their altruism (helpful) script is activated, making it more likely
that they will help others.
Holloway when participants were in a waiting room they listened to a positive
news story on the radio and another group didn't listen to anything. All

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
participants were told they were taking part in a study involving bargaining with
another participant. Those who had heard the positive news story were more
co-operative in their bargaining. This shows that activating a positive script leads
to prosocial behaviours.…read more

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
prosocial meanings to their children showing that parental mediation can be
effective.…read more


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