Cumberbatch and Gauntlett (2005)

Issues and Debates

Content Analysis- Example Study

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  • Created by: Daisy
  • Created on: 24-05-12 09:58


  • To find out how much smoking, alcohol and drug abuse feature in TV programmes watched by 10-15 year olds
  • To find out how they are treated on TV
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  • Researchers focused on the 10 programmes most watched by 10-15 year olds, which included 70% soaps.
  • The study was carried out from August to October 2004
  • 256 programmes were involved in the analysis, all broadcast before the 9pm watershed.
  • Caterogires that were tallied incolved scenes were alcohol smoking or legal or illegal drugs featured.
  • There were 2099 scenes analysed.
  • Material that was counted included observed or implied alcohol, smoking drug-related behaviour and references to alcohol, smoking or drugs.
  • Visual representations were also counted such as drink in a scene
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  • Alcohol featured more than smoking or drugs in the most popular tv show.
  • Alcohol related scenes occurred about 12 times each hour, smoking related scenes about 3.4 times each hour and drug related scsnes about 1.7 times.
  • Only 4% of the programmes had no occurrences of the target scenes.
  • Both drinkers and smokers had large roles in scenes - 37% of the major charectors were drinkers and 4% were smokers
  • Messages about alcohol were more or less natural in 84% of the scenes and 91% of the smoking messages were neutral , 57% of the drug references carried an anti-drug message and 40% were neutral.
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  • Alcohol features quite a lot, smoking less so and drugs even less
  • Alcohol and smoking are mostly referred to an in a neutral way, rather than in a postivtive way promoting their use. Most drug references were either negative or neutral
  • Quite a few of the major charectoers tend to be drinkers, while far fewer are smokers
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Evaluation - Strenths

  • There are no ethical issues with a content analysis which only involves counting instances of caterogies in existing material (though perhaps results and conclusions can have an impact that might have ethical implications)
  • There is generalisabilty with regard to the findings at least to programmes watched by 10-15 year olds as many different programmes were chosen
  • It was checked that the programmes used were the top ten that the aged group watched which was a valid measure
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Evaluation - Weaknesses

  • Of the programmes, 70% or more were soap operas and all showed before the 9pm watershed so perhaps findings should only be generalised to those programmes.
  • The study was about modelling and how children might pick up on tv portrayal of alcohol,smoking and drugs. However children also have models in families and elsewhere.A content analysis does not show a casual link
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very good for a content analysis for a level psychology. 

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